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Zais, Melvin, GEN USA(Ret).
Home Town Fall River
Last Address Beaufort, SC
Date of Passing May 07, 1981
Location of Interment Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates Sec 1 Grave 150-F
Last Known Activity
Place of birth
Fall River, Massachusetts
United States of America
United States Army
Years of service
1st Infantry Division
101st Airborne Division
World War II
General Melvin Zais (May 8, 1916, in Fall River, Massachusetts - May 7, 1981) was a United States Army general.
General Zais attended the University of New Hampshire and graduated with a B.A. in Political Science. In 1937 he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve. He attended the U.S. Command and General Staff College, and was also a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College, and the National War College. He was promoted to Brigadier General, June 1, 1964; Major General, May 1, 1967; and Lieutenant General, August 1, 1969.He was named Commanding General, Allied Land Forces, Southeast Europe, Turkey, effective August 1973 following his promotion to General on July 13th the month prior.
He was a veteran of World War II and Vietnam War. His assignments included Commander, 1st Infantry Division, United States Army, Vietnam, 1966; Director of Individual Training, Office, Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, U.S. Army, Washington, D.C., 1966-68; Commanding General, 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile), U.S. Army, Vietnam, 1968-69; Commanding General, XXIV Corps, U.S. Army, Vietnam, 1969-70; Director for Operations, J-3, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C., 1970-72; Commanding General, Third Army, 1972-73.
Personal Story - Submitted by: FA Hudson, Ronald (MajHud), MAJ
I was at LZ Nancy on April 13, 1970, when that base was overrun by NVA. I was attached to HHB 1st/39th FA, 108th Artillery Group. In the morning after the attack and after we had killed or captured any Sappers remaining in our area, I was near the Bn. CP when the Generals helicopter came in with the big blue heart on its side. There were several of us near the Aid Station when Gen. Zais walked over to us and as we rose to told us to sit down. He asked how we were and did anyone have any needs. A courageous troop said we hadn't seen a PX in months. He said he would see what he could do. That afternoon a Ch47 flew in and a group of starched rear type troops piled out. They set up a perimeter and a cash register and we went through the line buying everything they had! He was my hero that day. Our battalion was awarded the Valorous Unit Citation for that action. I hope this info is of some interest. Ronald L. Hudson
GENERAL (RET) MELVIN ZAIS, U.S. ARMY
General Melvin Zais, a native of Fall River, Massachusetts, graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1937 with a Bachelor of Art in Political Science. He began his military career after graduation as a U.S. Army Reserve Second Lieutenant.
He was recalled to active duty in 1940 after a year in civilian life and served at Fort Benning, Georgia where he volunteered for the original paratroop battalion in the Army, the 501st Parachute Infantry Battalion.
After graduation from the Command and General Staff College in 1943, General Zais organized and trained the 3rd Battalion, 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment and led them into combat in Italy and France. Service as Regimental Executive Officer during combat in Belgium and Germany was followed by command of the Regiment upon its return to Fort Bragg.
General Zais was selected as Brigadier General on June 1, 1964. Between 1964 and 1966, he became Deputy Commanding General, Field Force and Assistant Division Commander of the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam. His second tour in Vietnam was served as Commanding General of the 101st Airborne Division and XXIV Corps during the period of July 1968 to June 1970. He assumed command of the Third United States Army at Fort McPherson, Georgia in June 1972 which position he held until June 1973. He was named Commanding General, Allied Land Forces, Southeast Europe, Turkey, effective August 1973 following his promotion to General on July 13th the month prior.
His military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal on five occasions; the Silver Star twice; the Legion of Merit four times; the Distinguished Flying Cross twice; the Bronze Star Medal; the Joint Service Commendation Medal; the Army Commendation Medal twice; the Purple Heart; and numerous foreign awards and honors.
General Zais had two sons with Marjorie Aileen Emert Zais, Barrie E. and Mitchell M. Zais both of whom are officers in the United States Army. Marjorie Zais passed away and General Zais subsequently married Patricia V. Light at Fort Myer, Virginia, becoming the stepfather of David R. and John P. Light.