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Scott Allen Zellem
Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy
Pennsylvania State Flag
From  contemporary press reports:

Scott Zellem PHOTO
 

Zellem Memorial Service PHOTO
 
 

SA Zellem USNA Photo

Lieutenant Commander Scott Zellem, 35, was one of four San Diego-based airmen in a S-3B Viking jet that crashed on an uninhabited island after it had taken off from the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, deployed in the Western Pacific. The others killed were Lieutenant Patrick Myrick, 31, of Santa Monica, California; Lieutenant James Pupplo, 34, of Selden, New York, and Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Joshua Showalter, 24, of Fontana, California.

Zellem was a 1987 graduate of Indiana Area High School and a 1991 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

He had been a pilot in the U.S. Navy for 13 years. In May 2003, he was a flight officer on the first of two Navy S-3B Vikings that carried President George W. Bush onto the USS Abraham Lincoln, where Bush addressed the nation following the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

According to a Navy public affairs release, Zellem's Viking was flying in the vicinity of the Iwo Jima island chain when communications were lost at about 7:42 p.m. local time Tuesday.

The Navy first listed the crew members as missing after the plane did not return. Navy Newsstand, a Web source for Navy news, reported Friday morning that the Navy declared the four crewmen dead.

Aircraft wreckage has been found and recovery efforts are under way, according to the Web news site.

The twin-engine jet plane went down during the first night of a four-day training exercise between the Stennis and the carrier USS Kitty Hawk, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

The Navy Friday said the jet impacted Kita Iwo Jima, an uninhabited 2.4-square-mile island, Tuesday evening. A mishap investigation into the cause of the incident is being conducted.

Kita Iwo Jima is the top of a volcano that juts 2,520 feet above the Pacific Ocean. It has sheer sides with no beach. It lies about 620 miles south of Japan and 42 miles north of Iwo Jima, the scene of fierce fighting between American and Japanese troops during World War II.

According to the Navy, when communications were lost with the Viking, helicopters, other aircraft and surface ships were sent to the crash site. The Japan Maritime Self Defense Forces assisted in the search.

The Navy said a memorial service for the crew would be held Sunday aboard the Stennis.

Zellem's family announced that a memorial service would be held later in Indiana and that Scott Zellem would be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Zellem is the son of Ted Zellem of Charlottesville, Virginia, and Sally Zellem of Indiana, a retired executive director of the Indiana County chapter of the American Red Cross.

At Indiana high school, Zellem was a star linebacker and tight end on the football team. In 1986, he was named the team's most valuable player and the defensive player of the year. He also was the District 6 Quad A defensive player of the year.

Zellem also played football for the Naval Academy.

In November 2002, Zellem told Indiana Area Senior High School students to "take heed of what is happening in the world ... whether it is next door or on the next continent.

"There will be some tough and scary times ahead in the near future," Zellem said in a Veterans' Day speech. "When they happen, be tough, be brave and remember you are an American and ready to fight for your freedom as veterans have before you. If you are afraid or if you run and stick your head in the sand, the bad guys win. And that is unacceptable."

Rod Ruddock, the retired principal of the high school, said Friday that Zellem easily captured the students' attention each time he was invited to speak at the school.

"It was his charisma, his spirit and his belief in his country," Ruddock said. "I wanted someone closer in age to speak to our students. I could not think of a better representative than Scott."

Zellem's younger brother, Ed, boasted that Scott and the other officers who flew President Bush to the USS Lincoln last year influenced the president's decision to appear in military garb .

"After Scott gave the president his safety briefing in San Diego, the president asked where he could change into his suit when he arrived at the carrier," said Ed, a Navy officer who is stationed in Virginia. "My brother and the others said he would look much better in the flight suit. The president shrugged and said OK.

"So that's one of my brother's legacies to the world."

The Viking jet is a four-seat, $27 million aircraft originally built to hunt and sink Soviet submarines during the Cold War.

In recent years the plane has taken on added roles, including aerial refueling and maritime strike missions. It can carry Harpoon and Maverick air-to-surface missiles.


Families say flying was their passion 
August 14, 2004

With each knock on the door came the agonizing words, "We regret to inform . . . " marking the end of four aviators' lives.

They leave memories and their devotion to duty as legacies. The men, flying a Navy S-3B Viking jet from the aircraft carrier John C. Stennis, died Tuesday when their aircraft slammed into Kita Iwo Jima, a volcanic island about 620 miles southeast of Japan.

It was supposed to be a routine training flight during a naval exercise over the placid waters of the Pacific, with few of the dangers all four knew 17 months earlier during combat missions over Iraq.

Yesterday, the Navy released their names, confirming that they died when the twin-engine jet crashed.

The fliers were members of Sea Control Squadron VS-35 at North Island Naval Air Station.

Lieutenant Commander Scott A. Zellem, 35, of Indiana, Pennsylvania.
Lieutenant Patrick S. Myrick, 31, of Seattle, Washington
Lieutenant James J. Pupplo, 34, of Selden, New York
Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua B. Showalter, 24, of Fontana, California

The flight was to have been routine, but there was nothing routine about their lives.

One played football for his hometown high school and for the U.S. Naval Academy.

One fell in love with another officer.

Another flier served on a nuclear submarine before trading his enlisted uniform for officer's bars and aviator's wings.

Coaching a youth soccer team filled the off-duty hours of the fourth.

Jennifer Zellem had no intention of marrying a Navy man.

When a friend invited her to a beach party here on Good Friday, April 21, 2000, she tried to decline, saying that she didn't want to meet any unattached Navy officers. But that was before she saw Scott Zellem.

"It was 100 percent love at first sight," she said yesterday in a phone interview.

He called Easter Sunday, asking for a date the next day.

They married August 16, 2002.

"He was the most compassionate, sincere, loving person I've ever known," she said.

A sports fan, Zellem had played football in high school and at the Naval Academy. Zooming around Mission Bay on a jet ski, walking on the beach at sunset with her or playing with their 13-month-old son, Tanner, were all favorite activities, Jennifer said.

But the Navy and flying were his passion.

While she was worried about the risks of a naval aviator being catapulted off a carrier deck and then landing on a pitching, moving deck, stopped only by a thick steel cable and a stout tailhook "I loved watching how much he loved his job."

Pilot Patrick Myrick decided young that he wanted to be a pilot, and not just any kind.

"He wanted to fly off ships," his mother, Meg Myrick, recalled yesterday.

But it was his ability to make friends for life, to make people laugh and to make others better that gained the attention of another prospective naval aviator.

"I loved seeing the world through his eyes," said his wife, Lieutenant Alli Myrick.

They met as students at officer candidate school in Pensacola, Florida.

Alli caught Patrick and a friend "jumping the line" in the dormitory laundry room. Being a few weeks ahead of them at the school, Alli dressed down the pair for using a dryer out of turn.

Alli and Patrick became best friends, studying for classes and prepping for flight school. But that was as far as she expected the relationship would go.

"I told him he was too handsome to date," she said yesterday.

One day, he brought her flowers he'd plucked from the Officers Club garden. The gesture was a tipping point for her.

"I realized I shouldn't resist," she said.

Marrying another officer wasn't going to be easy, they realized. Too small for aircraft, Alli moved to public affairs jobs while Patrick went to flight school.

"I knew it was more dangerous than an average job," she said. "I was OK with it because he was so happy with it.

"Flying was in his blood and he loved flying, and I knew I'd support him 110 percent," she said while she rubbed the miniature gold pilot's wings hanging from a thin necklace.

His life, she said, was "so enriching and an elevating experience" for everyone he met and knew.

Myrick and Pupplo were roommates aboard the Stennis.

Their two-person stateroom was turned into a theater when they installed a television projector, hanging a sheet for the screen.

On "movie nights," squadron buddies would stop by and watch DVDs shown on the big screen.

Pupplo had been an enlisted man and a submariner before he became a flight officer, handling nonflying duties such as navigation and weapons.

His wife, who is pregnant with their first child, and family declined to be interviewed.

The crew's only enlisted man was Joshua Showalter, an avionics technician.

Through a Navy spokeswoman, his wife, Jennifer, said her husband was "gung-ho Navy" and planned to make the service a career.

Besides the Navy, he loved playing soccer and coached a youth team while off-duty. For personal enjoyment, he worked on his computer and toyed with remote-controlled cars, she said.

Showalter enlisted in December 1998 and joined VS-35 in October 2001.

He is survived by his wife, who is pregnant, and one child.

As families and friends began mourning their losses stateside, the Stennis crew planned to hold a memorial service on board Sunday.

Services are pending for the aviators.


Lieutenant Commander Scott Zellem Naval aviator from Indiana, Pensylvania, buried at Arlington National Cemetery
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Courtesy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Lieutenant Commander Scott Zellem, a native of Indiana, Pennsylvania, who died August 10, 2004, while on a training flight in southeast Japan, was buried yesterday with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Commander Zellem, 35, was one of four Navy officers who died when their S-3B Viking surveillance aircraft crashed on the island of Kita Iwo Jima during operations from the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.

He was a pilot with the California-based Sea Control Squadron VS-35, the unit that on May 1, 2003, flew President Bush onto the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, where the president told the nation that major combat in Iraq was over. The squadron's commander, John Lussier, piloted the S-3B that carried Bush.

Commander Zellem graduated from Indiana High School in 1987 and from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1991, and received his Naval aviation wings at Pensacola, Fla., in 1992.

He excelled in football in high school and at the Naval Academy.

After graduation from the academy, he flew the A-6 Intruder and S-3B Viking from several aircraft carriers, including the USS Independence, USS Abraham Lincoln and USS John C. Stennis.

He had more than 540 carrier landings during his career and flew several combat missions in 2003 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, for which he was awarded an Air Medal.

In addition to yesterday's ceremony at Arlington, Lt. Cmdr. Zellem has been honored on several other occasions since his death.

On August 15, 2004, Navy S-3B Viking jets flew in the missing man formation over the Stennis as a 21-gun salute sounded across the carrier's flight deck during a memorial service for Commander Zellem and the other three aviators.

Michael Minich, co-owner of Bowser-Minich Funeral Home in Indiana, Pennsylvania, which handled the arrangements, said there have been several memorial services, but no local service is planned.

Commander Zellem's mother is Sally London Zellem of Indiana, longtime director of the local American Red Cross chapter.

In addition to his mother, he is survived by his wife, Jennifer Zellem, and their son, Tanner, both of San Diego; his father, Theodore F. Zellem of Charlottesville, Virginia.; a brother, Edward Zellem of Dahlgren, Virginia; and a sister, Millie Cathcart, also of Charlottesville.

Memorial contributions can be made to a college fund established for 1-year-old Tanner. The fund is Collegebound Fund account 030-03540, FBO Tanner Zellem. Mail to Bernstein Investment Research and Management, 225 S. Sixth St., Suite 5100, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401.



BEFORE HIS DEATH, NAVY FLIER ESCORTED PRESIDENT TO CARRIER

On May 1, 2003, Lieutenant Commander Scott Zellem was standing in a briefing room at North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego when President George W. Bush entered, wearing an olive-green naval flight suit.

"Mr. President," Zellem said, "you look awesome."

"Thanks, 'Z-man,' " Bush replied, using Zellem's Navy call sign.

Later that day, the president made a tailhook landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln in a S-3B Viking jet flown by John "Skip" Lussier, commander of Zellem's squadron. Bush then gave a speech that heralded an end to major combat operations in Iraq.

Bush was soon criticized by some Democrats who saw the flight as little more than a "Top Gun" stunt. Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia questioned "the motives of a deskbound president who assumes the garb of a warrior for the purposes of a speech."

But for Scott Zellem, a native of Indiana, Pennsylvania, the moment was a high point in his naval career.

Zellem, 35, was buried with full military honors last week at Arlington National Cemetery. He was one of four Navy officers who died Aug. 10 when their jet crashed into an uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean during a training exercise.

Zellem gave family members extensive details about his encounter with the president.

"It was one of the highlights of his life," said his brother, Navy Commander Ed Zellem of Dahlgren, Virginia. "Just to get a chance to meet the commander in chief -- for a military guy, it doesn't get any better than that."

Scott Zellem was an obvious choice for the team of officers who would accompany Bush and Andrew Card, White House chief of staff, to the aircraft carrier, said Lieutenant Rockne Baker, another member of that team.

"It was a no-brainer," Baker said. "Scott was as motivated and charismatic as they come."

Bush quickly put Zellem, Baker and everyone else in the briefing room at ease with a few jokes, some of them off-color. Zellem showed the president how to use the Viking's ejector seat, and the other officers went over flight routes with Bush.

Zellem was the navigator and Baker was the pilot on a jet that flew ahead of the president's plane and also carried Card, who briefly took the controls, just as Bush did on his jet.

The crew on the aircraft carrier, not Bush or his staff, decided to put up the controversial "Mission Accomplished" banner that hung behind the president during his speech, Scott Zellem told his brother Ed. Even though the war in Iraq was still raging, the USS Abraham Lincoln was headed home, and for the men and women on board, the ship's mission was accomplished.

Baker said that the ship's crewmembers did not see the event as a political stunt.

"Every person on that boat would have divvied up what it cost to bring the president," he said. "It was so important for them."

Scott Zellem graduated from Indiana High School in 1987 and the U.S. Naval Academy in 1991, and received his naval aviation wings at Pensacola, Fla., in 1991.

He excelled in football in high school and at the Naval Academy.

Zellem had more than 540 carrier landings during his career and he flew 26 combat missions in Iraq. During each mission, he carried two items given to him by his brother: a pocket Bible and a medal depicting St. Christopher, the patron saint of sailors.

On Saturday, Zellem's wife, Jennifer, attended the Tailhook Convention in Reno, Nev., an annual event frequented by many Navy and Marine pilots, where she received a leadership award honoring Scott Zellem's career.

Shortly before Zellem's burial in Arlington, a letter published in the Indiana Gazette heaped praise on the Navy officer:

"Lt. Commander Scott Zellem was a great kid growing up here in Indiana, later a great student, a great athlete, a great U.S. Naval Academy graduate, and then a great military pilot," Ronald Henry wrote.

Another letter, signed by George W. Bush and sent to Zellem's 1-year-old son, Tanner, last month, also praised the pilot:

"I had the privilege of flying with your father Scott on May 1, 2003," the letter reads. "He was a strong, brave man who defended our nation and protected our freedom. I'm proud to have been his commander in chief."

Name: Lt. Cmdr. Scott Allen Zellem
Date of birth: March 10, 1969
Place of birth: Indiana, Pennsylvania

In the news: Zellem was buried at Arlington National Cemetery last week. On May 1, 2003, he helped brief President George W. Bush before the president flew out to the USS Abraham Lincoln.

Quote: "Mr. President, you look awesome."

Education: He graduated from Indiana High School in 1987 and the U.S. Naval Academy in 1991, and received his naval aviation wings at Pensacola, Fla., in 1991.

Family: Lt. Cmdr. Zellem's mother is Sally London Zellem, of Indiana, longtime director of the local American Red Cross chapter. In addition to his mother, he is survived by his wife, Jennifer Zellem, and their son, Tanner, both of San Diego; his father, Theodore F. Zellem, of Charlottesville, Va.; a brother, Edward Zellem, of Dahlgren, Va.; and a sister, Millie Cathcart, also of Charlottesville.



Lieutenant Commander Scott Zellem, a native of Indiana, Pennsylvania, who died August 10 while on a training flight in southeast Japan, was buried yesterday with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Lt. Cmdr. Zellem, 35, was one of four Navy officers who died when their S-3B Viking surveillance aircraft crashed on the island of Kita Iwo Jima during operations from the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis. 

He was a pilot with the California-based Sea Control Squadron VS-35, the unit that on May 1, 2003, flew President Bush onto the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, where the president told the nation that major combat in Iraq was over. The squadron's commander, John Lussier, piloted the S-3B that carried Bush.

Lt. Cmdr. Zellem graduated from Indiana High School in 1987 and from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1991, and received his Naval aviation wings at Pensacola, Fla., in 1992.

He excelled in football in high school and at the Naval Academy.

After graduation from the academy, he flew the A-6 Intruder and S-3B Viking from several aircraft carriers, including the USS Independence, USS Abraham Lincoln and USS John C. Stennis.

He had more than 540 carrier landings during his career and flew several combat missions in 2003 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, for which he was awarded an Air Medal.

In addition to yesterday's ceremony at Arlington, Lt. Cmdr. Zellem has been honored on several other occasions since his death.

On Aug. 15, Navy S-3B Viking jets flew in the missing man formation over the Stennis as a 21-gun salute sounded across the carrier's flight deck during a memorial service for Lt. Cmdr. Zellem and the other three aviators.

Michael Minich, co-owner of Bowser-Minich Funeral Home in Indiana, Pa., which handled the arrangements, said there have been several memorial services, but no local service is planned.

Lt. Cmdr. Zellem's mother is Sally London Zellem of Indiana, longtime director of the local American Red Cross chapter.

In addition to his mother, he is survived by his wife, Jennifer Zellem, and their son, Tanner, both of San Diego; his father, Theodore F. Zellem of Charlottesville, Va.; a brother, Edward Zellem of Dahlgren, Va.; and a sister, Millie Cathcart, also of Charlottesville.

Memorial contributions can be made to a college fund established for 1-year-old Tanner. The fund is Collegebound Fund account 030-03540, FBO Tanner Zellem. Mail to Bernstein Investment Research and Management, 225 S. Sixth St., Suite 5100, Minneapolis, MN 55401.


ZELLEM, SCOTT A
LCDR   US NAVY
IRAQ
DATE OF BIRTH: 03/10/1969
DATE OF DEATH: 08/10/2004
BURIED AT: SECTION 66  SITE 3003
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

SA Zellum Gravesite PHOTO July 2008
Photo Courtesy of Scott D. Oram, USN, July 2008

Webmaster: Michael Robert Patterson


Posted: 9 September 2004  Updated: 5 September 2005 Updated: 22 January 2006 Updated: 5 July 2008
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