Two Struther Brothers Carry On Family Legacy Of Proud Military Service | News, Sports, Jobs


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STRUTHERS – Brothers Robert and Richard Zanni both joined the Air Force Reserve to follow in the footsteps of their father, Salvatore, who was in the Army Air Corps (a precursor to the Air Force) during World War II.

However, they joined for different reasons. Robert, now 61, thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to see, and more importantly, help the world. During his military career, he traveled to six of the seven continents.

“I have had the chance to travel a lot. I volunteered to join the Air Force Reserve because I wanted to serve our country. My father, Salvatore L. Zanni, was in the Army Air Corps as an airline pilot and flew B17s and was also a radio operator. My father then joined the Air Force Reserve in 1948. It’s interesting. I also became an enlisted crew member, flying combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, ”said Robert.

He volunteered for the Air Force Reserve in 1989. He completed basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, which he describes as the gateway to the Air Force. After basic training in San Antonio, Robert went to Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas for technical school.

“Then I reported to Youngstown Air Reserve Station for my duties. I was an air cargo specialist and then in 1991, I did cross-training as an enlisted crew member. My specialty job was that of a C-130 Hercules Crew Steward, and that was my job until I retired, ”said Robert.

Robert and his crew have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Our unit has been deployed several times to the Middle East. Our crew participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and we also conducted aerial spraying missions during Hurricanes Katrina, Floyd and Harvey. Our unit brought comfort to Bosnia by providing humanitarian aid to Sarajevo (capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina). Many of us have done so much, everyone I have served with has done their job, ”said Robert.

Brotherhood service continued the family legacy of military service, and the chain continues with the next generation.

“My brother, Richard and I were both in the Air Force Reserve and his son, Joey, had just joined the Navy. My father was in the military as well as his brother, ”said Robert.

Robert is now a teacher.

“I am very proud, touched and fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve my country in uniform, and I am happy to have served alongside some of the best men and women in the United States. I just did my part when asked, and part of a long legacy of men and women, past and present, who have served. I would say the most rewarding aspect has been being a part of something that is so much bigger than yourself. You know you are doing your part, ”said Robert.


For Richard Zanni, being a flight medic really intrigued him to join the Air Force Reserve. Richard, now 62, was already a registered nurse for eight years before volunteering for the Air Force Reserve.

During his 28 years in the military, he served as a flight medic, flight instructor, flight examiner, air crew training officer, and retired as a major.

“I loved every second of being in the Air Force Reserve and being a flight nurse. I have always been interested in the medical field and have always loved all aspects of medicine. I volunteered because I had a strong desire to serve our country and do my part to preserve our freedom, ”said Richard.

“I love flying planes. I used to fly a single engine plane. My father, Salvatore, served in World War II and the Korean War and served a total of 33 years before retiring. He has since passed away. Today my son, Joey Zanni, is on active duty in the US Navy. He entered right after high school and left last July, ”said Richard.

In 1991, just two years after his brother, Richard traveled to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas for his basic training. The course he was given during his training was medical indoctrination for medical service officers.

“Then I was at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas for flight school, then I returned to Lackland Air Force Base for land and water survival training. Subsequently, I went to prehospital trauma care, then I followed training in emergency medical intervention. After this point, I had to undergo training in nuclear, biological, chemical and radiological emergency care. All of this training spanned 28 years, ”said Richard.

Richard’s first posting was with the 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, which was at Charleston Air Force Base in North Charleston, SC Richard was then with the 459th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George County, Maryland. He said most of his Air Force Reserve career has been spent at these bases.

“We have provided routine air evacuation missions in peacetime and in war. The missions covered at different times the regions of Panama, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Azores and Germany. Our mission was long-haul flights, and they centralized the patients or the injured in Germany and we sent them back to the United States. The most rewarding aspect has been dealing with casualties over 30,000 feet, traveling at 500 miles an hour, ”said Richard.

During his last five years in the Air Force Reserve, Richard worked as a field medic. Richard now works as a registered nurse at Baxter International in the Department of Global Medical Affairs.

“I had to retire from the Air Force Reserve because I had reached the maximum retirement age. If it wasn’t mandatory to retire at that age, I would have stayed in the Air Force Reserve. I loved every second and loved taking care of the injured in the sky. I loved the camaraderie, the quality, the organization and knowing that I was doing my part for our military, ”said Richard.

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