Major Anthony J. Zilinsky, USAF (ret), 85 of Navarre, FL, passed on Saturday, November 13, 2021, at his home after a 9 year battle with cancer.
The son of Anthony J. Zilinsky, Sr and Helen Zilinsky, was born and raised in Hartford, CT and a graduate of the University of CT in 1958 with an Engineering degree.
His military career began in July of 1958 when he enlisted in the USAF. His first assignment was to the Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, AL as a Missile Technician in fuels, guidance and controls systems on the Jupiter, Atlas and Thor missiles. He had the unique experience of working with Dr. Werner Von Braun, the noted German rocket scientist from World War II.
In 1960, he began OCS (Officer Candidate School) and graduated as a Second Lieutenant (Class 61C) and began Pilot Training at Vance AFB, Enid Oklahoma where he flew T-37, T-38, and T-33’s. From Vance AFB, he was assigned to George AFB, Victorville, CA where he started a career in Intelligence, January 1962. Then was assigned to the 479th Tactical Fighter Wing as a F-104 fighter squadron Intel Officer. During this time, he was deployed to Boca Chica Navar Air Station in FL taking part in the wartime event known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. For 3 months he briefed aircrews on Orders of Battle and Operational classified plans dealing with the invasion of Cuba. After a very tense situation, the Soviets finally removed their missiles from Cuba and went back to Russia. He said that he learned how important the military was to the security of the United States of America.
1963 – 1964, began his first of three overseas assignments to Vietnam where he set up networks in concert with Central Intelligence Agency, Army Special Forces and was an advisor to the South Vietnamese government.
After returning from his first tour in Vietnam, he was Chief of Intelligence for the 551st Airborn Early Warning Control Wing at Otis AFB, Falmouth, Massachusetts. While here he attended Naval Antisubmarine School, Norfolk, VA. One of his secondary and most fascinating duties was Project Blue Book Officer where he interviewed people who sighted unidentified flying objects (UFO’s) in and around the Cape Cod area. During this tour he achieved the rank of Captain.
Tony’s next assignment was to West Germany as NATO, Director of Intelligence for Air Forces in Central Europe. Here he worked in an underground bunker and commanded 300 intelligence personnel and linguists to watch the military activities taking place in the Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union. Other duties included Nuclear Release Officer for central European aircraft. He received the Joint Service Commendation Medal from the Allied Supreme Commander, NATO.
From Germany, he returned to Lackland AFB as a squadron Commander assigned to Officer Training School, 1969 – 1972, and commanded a staff of 15 instructors. Extra duties included Honor Code Advisor where he investigated honor code violations.
His next assignment was Eglin AFB, Florida, Chief of Intelligence to the Operational Combat Organization, 33 Tactical Fighter Wing(F-4 aircraft). He also took pride in his involvement with the Special Olympics.
He then entered the Air Force Reserves at Westover AFB, MA as Chief of Intelligence for the 439th Tactical Airlift Wing and was promoted to the rank of Major. In 1982 he retired from the US Air Force with 24 proud years of active and reserve service.
Tony achieved his MBA in International Business at the University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT. For 6 years, he worked for Pollution Control Exports USA as Vice President of International Business Operations, Europe/Latin America.
1996 – 2002, Tony was an Adjunct professor for Albertus Magnus College, New Haven, CT teaching International Business, Strategic Management, Operations Management, International Marketing, Economics and Finance.
After moving to Navarre, FL in 2002, Tony (or Mr. Z, as most of his students called him), worked for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University at the Hurlburt AFB and Eglin AFB branches, teaching Macroeconomics and Microeconomics at the undergraduate level. He also taught International Business, Economics and Finance at the graduate level for the University of Arkansas. He was awarded the honor of Teacher of the Year 3 separate years at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Tony resided in Navarre, FL with his wife, Joyce until his death.
Tony is survived by his wife, Joyce; son, Col. Anthony J. Zilinsky, III; daughter, Karin Sebolt; daughter, Leigh Zilinsky; stepson, Clint Gubich; stepdaughter, Roxanne Broussard and our six grandchildren, A.J. Zilinsky, Christian Fields, Trevor Sebolt, Regan Sebolt, Steffi Zilinsky, and Mitchell Fields.
For those of us that are mourning the loss of this dynamic, loving, patriotic, Christian man, we are including a poem: I’m spending Christmas with Jesus this Year.
I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below
With tiny lights, like Heaven's stars, reflecting on the snow.
The sight is so spectacular, please wipe away that tear
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year
I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear
But the sounds of music can't compare with the Christmas choir up here
For I have no words to tell you the joy their voices bring
It is beyond description to hear the angels sing
I know how much you miss me, but please remember, dear;
That I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year
I cannot tell you of the splendor of the peace inside this place.
Can you imagine Christmas with Our Savior, face to face?
I will ask Him to light your spirit as I tell Him of your love.
So then pray for one another as you lift your eyes above.
Please let your hearts be joyful and let your spirit sing.
For I am spending Christmas in Heaven and walking with the King!
A visitation will be held on Monday, November 22, 2021 from 10–11:00am at St. Paul United Methodist Church, Gulf Breeze with a funeral service beginning at 11:00am. Interment with military honors will be at 1:00pm in Barrancas National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family would like to request donations be made to St. Jude Children Hospital. You may express condolences to the family and sign the guestbook at www.roselawn-fh.com. Rose Lawn Funeral Home & Cemetery of Gulf Breeze is entrusted with the arrangements.