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Passing of Richard Zimmerman

Fritz Wester

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SMsgt Richard Zimmerman of Frackville Pennsylvania passed at the age of 83 on Monday February 27.  "Zimmy" was the former Chief Flight Engineer at the 913th at Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove Pennsylvania.  Zimmy continued to fly after his AFRES retirement as a 747 FE for Flying Tigers and as a C-130 FE in the aerial firefighting industry for International Air Response for years 1993, 1994 and 1995 in France.

Zimmy was born in Ringtown the son of the late Maurice "Hap" and Mabel Hodgert Zimmerman.  He was a graduate of Frackville High School, Frackville Pennsylvania.  He was a member of the American Legion Post 398, Masonic Lodge 737 and the B.P.O. Elks Lodge 1533 all of Frackville and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Zimmy started his Air Force career as a B-36 Crew Chief at Carswell and was on board a B-36 aircraft that flew through the Hydrogen Bomb cloud immediately after the H-Bomb test at Bikini Atoll (Operation Castle 1954).  He was at Carswell during the filming of "Strategic Air Command" starring Jimmy Stewart, June Allison and Harry Morgan.  In a flight line sequence vehicles can be seen driving behind the actors.  Zimmy drove one of those vehicles for the movie.  He said they would drive one way, turn around and dive the other over and over to make the flight line look like a busy place.  Zimmy was also a C-119 Crew Chief who eventually transitioned to Flight Engineer.

Zimmy was preceded in death by his first wife Leona Zimmerman and his brother Donald W. "Tex" Zimmerman.  He is survived by his second wife Pauline Kopey Searls Zimmerman who resides at their home in Frackville Pennsylvania; Sister Nancy Maglowsky of Frackville daughter Dana Zimmerman Goodman, her husband Robert both of Tampa Florida; a son David Zimmerman, Davids wife Danielle both of Allentown; stepdaughter Lynne Searls Napoli her husband Thomas both of Charlotte North Carolina; stepson Richard Searls and his wife Diane and 8 grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

Relatives and friends are invited to a visitation from 2 to 4 P.M. Saturday March 4 at Albert L. Gricoski Funeral Home in Frackville.  Internment with Military honors will be in Indiantown Gap National Cemetery, Annville

Zimmy was one of two mentors who trained me to be a Flight Engineer.  While not intolerant of mistakes, Zimmy did not expect a trainee to make the same mistake twice.  His kind understanding and patient teaching method are always with me when I fly.  I owe to him a debt of eternal gratitude for his patience, care, understanding and outstanding knowledge of the C-130 and those flight operations.

Tailwinds my Dear Friend


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  • 3 weeks later...

May Zim rest in peace. He was my Flight Engineer Instructor when I was a C-130A(54 models) Flight Engineer at Willow Grove Air Reserve Station with the 913th/327th.

He was always knowledgeable and helped any of the engineers if they had problems. I flew with him many times on our A's. He also went to Desert Shield/Storm with us in 90/91 .

After retiring he flew C-130A's with a Fire tanker unit that flew in Europe and also he worked as a contract civilian airplane mechanic in Japan.

Hope Zim is still flying a C-130 in Heaven. Our thoughts go out also to Mrs. Zimmerman.

Vince Acquaviva 

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