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Adapted from "Lieutenant Thomas Edward Zellars, United States Navy"
[biography, copied 3 June 1949, source unknown] in Biographies, 20th century collection, Navy Department Library.

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Thomas Edward Zellars

11 August 1898 - 12 June 1924

Thomas E. Zellars class photograph from 1920 Lucky Bag.

Lieutenant (junior grade) Zellars was born in Grantville, Georgia, 11 August 1898, and died at his post of duty on 12 June 1924.  Appointed to the US Naval Academy from Georgia on 13 June 1917, he was graduated and commissioned Ensign on 3 June 1920 with first section of the Class of 1921. He was advanced to Lieutenant (junior grade) on 5 June 1924.

After graduation, he joined USS Mississippi and served in her until 12 June 1924 when he was killed in a turret explosion followed by fire on Mississippi, laying off shore at San Pedro, California.

A plague to his memory was created by his classmates in Dahlgren Hall, Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, with the following inscription:

"His hand was found grasping the flood valve which extinguished a burning powder train and saved his ship. Flaming death was not as swift as his sense of duty and his will to save his comrades at any cost to himself. His was the spirit that makes the service live."

Destroyer DD-777 has been named USS Zellars in his honor.

Lieutenant Junior Grade Thomas E. Zellars, USN
The plaque to Zellars' memory at the US Naval Academy.


Published: Mon Feb 11 11:08:18 EST 2019