Edwin Julius Zimmermann was born in Wichita, Kansas, on 25 February 1918, son of Edwin J. and Florence (Denver) Zimmermann. He graduated from Wichita High School North and in 1939 received the degree of Bachelor of Science in Commerce from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas. Prior to entering naval service, he was employed as Secretary in his father’s business, Zimmermann Dental Supply Company, Dallas, Texas. On 1 August 1941 he enlisted in the US Naval Reserve and on 19 September, that year, reported for active duty as a student at the USNR Midshipmen School, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois. Upon completing his instruction, he was commissioned, Ensign, 16 January 1942 and subsequently advanced in rank to that of Rear Admiral, to date from 1 July 1967.
After receiving his commission in 1942, he had instruction at the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, Rhode Island, until April 1942 then had fitting out duty in USS Knight (DD-663) at the Boston (Massachusetts) Navy Yard. He reported on board that destroyer upon her commissioning, 23 June 1942 and subsequently participated in support of landings in North Africa, Sicily (both coasts) and Salerno. The Knight, as a unit of a special task unit, made sweeps of the Tyrrhenian Sea and assisted in the capture of the several islands controlling the approaches to the Bay of Naples. Detached from Knight in December 1943, he next had instruction at the Advanced Fire Control School, Navy Yard, Washington, DC.
In April 1944 he joined USS Ault (DD-698) as Gunnery Officer and as such took part in the THIRD and FIFTH Fleet Fast Carrier Group sorties against enemy bases on Formosa and in the South China Sea and the assault and capture of Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Nansei Shoto approaches to the Japanese home islands. He received a Letter of Commendation from Commander Destroyer Force, US Pacific Fleet, for “meritorious conduct” in defense of his own and those in company during multiple Japanese Kamikaze attacks against the Task Force. In June 1945 he reported as Destroyer Gunnery Instructor at the Fleet Training Center, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, where he remained until November 1945. Ordered to the Officer Separation Center, San Francisco, California, he was released from active duty, effective 11 February 1946.
Prior to returning to active duty on 12 September 1950, he was a member of Organized Surface Division 8-76 of the Naval Reserve Unit in Dallas, Texas. Reporting for active naval service, he was assigned to the Charleston Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet, where he served variously as Assistant Material Officer (Ordnance), Operations Officer and Plans Officer until July 1952. He then joined the Staff of Commander Battleship Division TWO as Aide and Flag Secretary and during January 1954 attended the Prospective Commanding Officer-Prospective Executive Officer course at the Fleet Sonar School, Key West, Florida. In February 1954 he became Executive Officer of USS Rowe (DD-564), deployed to the Far East, operating with SEVENTH Fleet.
From May 1955 to August 1958 he headed the Service Craft Branch, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington, DC, after which he commanded USS Compton (DD-705). That destroyer, under his command, won the Battle Efficiency “E” for the competitive years 1960 and 1961. In April 1961 he reported as Commanding Officer of the Naval Training Center, Brooklyn, New York, and in May 1962 was detached for duty as Assistant Chief of Staff for Personnel/Administration on the Staff of the Commandant of the Third Naval District, headquartered in New York, New York. In that capacity, he also served as Alternate for the Commandant on the Federal Executive Board.
In January 1964 he assumed command of USS Tanner (AGS-15), which, under his command, was principally engaged in locating and surveying Safe Deep Test Dive Areas for our expanding Atlantic Fleet submarine force. The Tanner was awarded the Battle Efficiency “E” for the 1964 Competitive year. Detached from the Tanner in April 1965 he was next Commander Reserve Destroyer Squadron THIRTY-FOUR.
He reported in August 1966 as Director of the Naval Reserve Plans Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, with additional duty as Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Naval Reserve). In February 1968 he reported as Deputy Commander of the Naval Reserve Training Command, Omaha, Nebraska, and in April 1970, assumed command of that activity, continuing duty as Deputy Commander. In July 1970 he was assigned as Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Naval Reserve), Navy Department and in March 1972 became Commander of the Naval Surface Reserve at Omaha, with additional duty from February 1973 as Chief of Naval Reserve (Surface). “For exceptionally meritorious conduct…” in that capacity, he was awarded the Legion of Merit. The citation further states in part:
“…During his tenure, he skillfully directed the management and training of over 100,000 Naval Reservists, instituting many new programs which contributed to the significant improvements in the overall strength and mobilization potential of the Naval Reserve…”
On 1 July 1973 he was transferred to the Retired List of the US Navy.
In addition to the Legion of Merit, Rear Admiral Zimmermann had the Naval Reserve Medal; Armed Forces Reserve Medal; American Defense Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal, Europe Clasp; National Defense Service Medal with bronze star; Korean Service Medal; United Nations Service Medal; and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon.
He was a member of Phi Delta Theta. Rear Admiral Zimmermann died 9 August 1975 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.