Died August 28,2005
Virgil Lee Zoller was born in Marion, Ill., in 1914. He graduated from the Marion Township High School in 1932 and entered the U.S. Army as a private that same year. Two years later he received a congressional appointment to the U.S. Military Academy and graduated in June 1938.
The young second lieutenant's first assignment was to pilot training school. In 1939 he received his pilot's wings when he graduated from flight training at Kelly Field, Texas. He was then assigned as a flight instructor at Kelly until November 1940.
From Kelly Field he was transferred to Harlingen, Texas, where he was commander of the First Training Division until he left in December 1943. For a period of about a month the general was commanding officer of the First Emergency Rescue Squadron at Boca Raton, Fla.
Lieutenant Colonel Zoller was transferred to the 15th Air Force in Italy where he flew combat and served as assistant to the chief of staff, A-3, l5th Air Force, and deputy commander of the 464th Bombardment Group. Flying as a crew member in addition to his staff job earned for the general the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal, and in September 1944 he was promoted to colonel. On April 26, 1945, he led the group's last B-24 bombing mission. He served as deputy commander until May 1945.
Returning to Texas after his overseas tour, Colonel Zoller was deputy wing commander, 79th Flying Training Wing, Harlingen, Texas, for a brief period until he was transferred in February 1946. His next assignment was as a student attending the command class of the Command and General Staff College until July 1946. Then he was sent to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, as provost marshal and later commanding officer, Wing 11, Air Training Command, at that base. In March 1948 he was transferred to the 354th Air Base Unit, San Antonio, Texas, as assistant chief of staff, A-5.
Transferred to China as a member of the Military Advisory Group at Nanking, Colonel Zoller served as assistant chief of staff, A-3 until the group was forced from the country by the communists in December 1948. In 1949 he assumed command of the 437th Fighter Wing (Far East Air Force) and in May 1950 he took over as commander, 5th Interceptor Wing (FEAF). Shortly after the outbreak of the Korean Conflict he assumed command of the 3rd Bomb Wing.
It was as commander of the 3rd Bomb Wing that Colonel Zoller received an oak leaf cluster to the Distinguished Flying Cross he had won during World War II and three oak leaf clusters for his Air Medal. He also received the Legion of Merit and the Silver Star. The citation for this medal reads in part; "Colonel Zoller distinguished himself by gallantry in action as a pilot of n B-26 attack bomber during a daylight interdiction mission on 11 December 1950, when he attacked an enemy transportation, buildings and troops in the vicinity of Sinuiju, Korea ... Colonel Zoller's gallant performance and outstanding devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the service and reflected great credit upon himself, the Far East Air Force, and the United States Air Force."
Returning to the United States in 1951, Colonel Zoller served as a staff officer at Tactical Air Command Headquarters, Langley Field, Va., until he assumed command of the 131st Fighter Bomber Wing, later designated the 479th Fighter Bomber Wing at George Air Force Base, Calif., in March 1952.
In August 1953 he attended the Air War College and in July 1954 became chief, Mi1itary Capabilities Division, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. In July 1956 he was transferred and became deputy director for estimates and chief, Policy and Management Group, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. He was promoted to brigadier general in July 1957.
He transferred to the Far East in August 1957 when he assumed command of the 314th Air Division and U.S. Air Forces Korea. In 1959 he became commander of the 832nd Air Division at Cannon AFB, N.M., and in 1961 he was assigned as Director of Intelligence, U.S. Strike Command, MacDill AFB, Fla., until his retirement.