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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Melvin Zais (May 8, 1916 – May 7, 1981) was a United States Army general who served in the Second World War and Vietnam War.

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Military career

Zais attended the University of New Hampshire and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. In 1937 he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Army Reserve. In 1940 he was a member of the original Parachute battalion later the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. During World War II, Zais was the commander of the 3rd Battalion and, later, executive officer of the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment, fighting in Italy, in southern France, and in the Battle of the Bulge.

Zais attended the United States Army 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 on June 1, 1964; major general on May 1, 1967; and lieutenant general on August 1, 1969. He was named Commanding General, Allied Land Forces South-Eastern Europe, Izmir, Turkey, effective August 1973 following his promotion to general on July 13 the month prior.

Zais' assignments included Commander, 1st Infantry Division, United States Army, Vietnam, 1966; Director of Individual Training, Office, Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, United States Army, Washington, D.C., 1966–68, during this time he led the army liaison team responsible for the involvement of Federal troops in suppressing the April 1968 Baltimore riot;[1]:320-2 Commanding General, 101st Airborne Division (then designated as Airmobile), Vietnam, 1968–69. He led the 101st Airborne Division in the Battle of Hamburger Hill against the People's Army of Vietnam. He then became the Commanding General, XXIV Corps, Vietnam, 1969–70.

After returning from Vietnam, Zais served Director for Operations, J-3, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C., 1970–72 and as Commanding General, Third United States Army from 1972 to 1973.

On August 1, 1973 Zais was promoted to the rank of four-star general and appointed as Commander, Allied Land Forces South-Eastern Europe. He held the position until his retirement on May 31, 1976. Zais died on May 5, 1981 in Beaufort, South Carolina.[2]

Awards and decorations

Zais' awards and decorations include the Army Distinguished Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Silver Star with oak leaf cluster; Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters; Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster; Bronze Star Medal. Zais also received ten overseas service bars signifying five years of overseas service during World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

Combat Infantry Badge.svg
1 star jump.svg
Combat Infantryman Badge
Basic Army Aviator Badge
Distinguished Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters Silver Star with oak leaf cluster Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster
Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster Bronze Star Medal Purple Heart
Air Medal Joint Service Commendation Medal Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster
American Defense Service Medal with service star American Campaign Medal European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four service stars
World War II Victory Medal Army of Occupation Medal National Defense Service Medal with one service star
Vietnam Service Medal with seven service stars National Order of Vietnam National Order of Vietnam
Gallantry Cross (Vietnam) Armed Forces Honor Medal Vietnam Campaign Medal
Master Combat Parachutist Badge w/ 1 star


  1. ^ Scheips, Paul (2005). The Role of Federal Military Forces in Domestic Disorders, 1945–1992 (PDF). US Army Center of Military History. ISBN 9781517253783. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ Josh Barbanel (1981-05-07). "GEN. MELVIN ZAIS, 64, FORMER NATO CHIEF FOR SOUTHEAST EUROPE – Obituary". United States: Retrieved 2012-02-14.

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Albert O. Connor
Commanding General of the Third United States Army
Succeeded by
Warren Bennett
Preceded by
Olinto M. Barsanti
Commanding General of the 101st Airborne Division
Succeeded by
John Wright
This page was last edited on 4 February 2020, at 19:38
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