Francis Joseph Ziegler
First Sergeant, United States Army
Francis J. Ziegler, First Sergeant, United States Army
"Armies are museums – and soldiers perhaps the most devoted of curators, save priests.”
~ Alexander Severus
“A Soldier in the U.S. Army is the embodiment of physical strength, emotional strength and strength of purpose. As a Soldier, you will be prepared to serve our country whenever and wherever you are needed, combat-ready at all times, trained to counter any threat, anywhere.”~ U.S. Army
On June 28, 1948 Francis officially enlisted in the United States Army and reported for duty on July 1, 1948 to begin his three years enlistment period. After military training (boot camp) in Fort Dix, he attended Quartermaster School at Fort Lee, Virginia, for an eight-week period to be a clerk typist, followed by thirteen weeks of stenography training. From Fort Lee my father was sent to Stoneman, California until leaving the United States for Yokohama, Japan with Headquarters Seventh Infantry Division.
“Corporal Francis J. Ziegler was my personal secretary, stenographer and typist from May 12, 1949 to February 18, 1951…During the time he worked for me he handled all of my correspondence, both personal and official, much of which was confidential or of higher classification…Corporal Ziegler is a young man of above average intelligence and his personal conduct, character and moral habits are above reproach.” ~ Brigadier General E. W. Piburn, Letter of Recommendation 1951
American Forces Far East: 1949 to 1952
Shortly after arriving in Japan Francis was assigned to Brigadier General Edwin W. Piburn (2000th ASU HQ 2d Army). In a personal letter accompanying the recommendation, General Piburn provides a who, what, and where about Francis’ deployment:
"My dear Ziegler … I miss my command (The Northern Command) and my association with the staff, both enlisted men and commissioned. Give my best to all whom you know that I know and my special regards to Mr. and Mrs. Maggistretti, if you have occasion to come to Tokyo, look me up.”
During the time Francis was in service to General Piburn he received the Army Occupation Medal and the Korean Service Medal.He also received his first Good Conduct Medal. The Good Conduct Medal is awarded to soldiers who show “exemplary behavior, efficiency, and fidelity in active Federal Military service. It is awarded on a selective basis to each soldier who distinguishes himself/herself from among his/her fellow soldiers by their exemplary conduct, efficiency, and fidelity throughout a specified period of continuous enlisted active Federal military service” (Institute of Heraldry, 2007).
In addition to working for General Piburn while in Japan he worked with the American Consul to “assist with the rush of marriages between American military personnel and Japanese nationals”(Blackberry, 1951) and was then assigned to Japan Logistics Command and was promoted to sergeant. The United States military experience seems to be a diverse education in performing duties as needed and intensive on the job training. He also performed duties at the Nikko-Kanaya Hotel, which was being utilized by the US Army for military personnel.
I would like to call your attention to Sgt. Francis J. Ziegler…whose efforts insured that my stay in the hotel [Nikko-Kanaya] was pleasant and comfortable. He exerts the utmost to duty and evidences to the guests his keen desire that their stay is happy.” ~ Colonel Harold E. Sanford, Letter of Appreciation 1951
When he left Japan he was just twenty-two years old, sergeant first class, and had a military record which regarded his character as “excellent” and his efficiency rating as “superior” (Ray, 1952). His first three years proved to be exciting and successful directing his future interest in the military.
“He is conscientious, devoted to duty and has performed his duties in excellent fashion. He has been quick to learn Foreign Service work and adapt himself to the needs of the office. It is recommended that favorable consideration be given an application for employment in the Foreign Service, should he apply at some future date when he has been separated from the Army.”~William L. Magistretti, American Consul, 1951
United States Army Europe: 1953 – 1956
While at Fort Meade Francis was under the command of Brigadier Peter C. Haines (Hq V Corps). On September 22, 1953 Francis was promoted to Master Sergeant. Undoubtedly, he had his first assignment specifically in his sights when he reenlisted for three more years, because one month later special orders, dated October 21, 1953, outlined his new assignment of “Army Secretary, Army Military Assist Staff, Yugoslavia;”the orders further specifies “Commanding Officer must grant enlisted member Top Secret Interim clearance prior to shipment.” (Ridgeway, 1953) General Haines’s assignment in Yugoslavia was chief of the military assistance advisory group (MAAG). The MAAG was “established December 12, 1951, as a component of U.S. Embassy in Belgrade, pursuant to United States-Yugoslavia agreement … responsible for procurement and distribution of materiel to Yugoslav armed forces, and for training in the use of such material” (The National Archives, 1995).
MSgt Ziegler was General Haines’ personal secretary from October 1953 to December 1955. Numerous orders list leaves and duties outside of Belgrade. Special Department of Defense missions: March 1958 Frankfurt, Germany; April 1954, Trieste, Italy; November 1954, permission granted to travel within and outside of Yugoslavia “as may be necessary in the performance of this mission” (Troy, 1954). The service was certainly not all drudgery. In January 1955, leave granted to Austria, Germany, and Switzerland for ten days. In July of 1955 he was granted leave to visit Trieste, Italy; Rijeka, Opatija, and Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia for twenty days. In July of 1956 he traveled to Rome. MSgt Ziegler certainly made sure that he fulfilled his dream and the military’s promise to see the world.
The army became extended family and afforded him the luxuries in life he might never had experienced had it not have been for hard work, dedication, and persistence. Once he began having a family the military provided security for them as well. Once separated from General Haines he remained in contact with him through occasional letters. In these letters General Haines advised Francis beyond military matters, and surprisingly in the best interest of Francis, advice which Francis eventually heeded.
From November 1955 through December 1956 he was assigned to yet another General, General John K. Waters. For Francis a lack of education was a major deterrent in the advancement he had hoped to achieve in the military, without an education rising above enlisted service would never be an option. At the end of his twenty-two years he had achieved the highest rank possible without attending a military academy. In October of 1956, Francis married Veroslava Radulovic and had his first child.In January of 1957 he returned to the United States and commenced assignment in Fort Dix, NJ. At first he worked as a personnel Sergeant, then an instructor for the Army Administration School, and finally, NCO Chaplain.
Preparing for Civilian Life
In August of 1958 Francis returned to Europe for assignment in Germany (G-1 Division & P&A Division). While in Germany he obtained 12 credits through the University of Maryland. In Heidelberg, Germany he was Personnel Management Supervisor and “Controlled personnel management policies and procedures affecting over 250,000 enlisted men and officers” (Ziegler Personal Resume, N.D.). While in Heidelberg, Francis and his wife had four more children. On September 30, 1962 he was officially honorably discharged from the army, the following day Francis reenlisted, but began setting his sights on a different horizon that would serve him and his family in the civilian world. In June of 1963 he returned, once again, to the United States continuing as Personnel Management Supervisor in Fort Sam Houston, Texas (4th USA 4000). A Sixth child was born. Francis tried to obtain commissioned officer status, but was denied. Disappointed he enrolled part-time at San Antonio Community college acquiring 36 more credits towards his B.A. Realizing that he had gone as far as he could in the United States he joined the reserves and enrolled as a full-time student at the University of Oklahoma (4th USA 4000). While in Oklahoma he had his seventh child and received a B.A. in Business Administration. After graduating he was sent to Vietnam in April of 1968 to train troops for battle and to continue his duties in the Financing Disbursing Unit (22nd Fin Det). On off-duty hours he taught College Economics in the Education Center in Vietnam. Francis spent a year in Vietnam and when he came home moved to Fort Dix, NJ where he completed his last year in military service (Co B Spec Trps).
When troops were sent to Grenada he attempted reenlistment, but was too old for combat. The military became a way of life for Francis J. Ziegler and he missed being a soldier. He loved to travel and had seen much of the world. His family, the military, and the sun made him complete. On December 30, 2002 Francis passed away. On January 8, 2003 he was finally able to wear his uniform again. He was buried with honors at Arlington National Cemetery on Patton Circle overlooking the Pentagon. The winter’s chill was warmed that January day by the bright sun 1st Sgt Ziegler absorbed throughout his life. 1st Sgt Ziegler was a man who found the sun everywhere he went and lived life seeing the sun from many shores. Taps played softly followed by the firing of rifles by the cortege, seven men and twenty-one rounds fired while his seven children and twenty-one grandchildren stood at the side of “the most devoted of curators.”
On December 14, 2006, Francis’ beloved wife, Veroslava Radulovic-Ziegler, was laid to rest with him.
Veroslava’s support of her husband’s military career enabled Francis to be the dedicated American soldier he was, while offering the happiness of family and home. For all her time, patience, love, and understanding, Veroslava is warmly remembered and appreciated.