Bernard M. Zeppenfeld, 89, died at Sunrise at Mt. Vernon on Aug. 28.
Zeppenfeld was a native of Pittsburg, Pa. His mother, Gertrude M. Jelly, and his father, William F. Zeppenfeld, named him for his distant relative General George McClelland of the Union Army of the Potomac.
Zeppenfeld discovered his love of flying as a 10-year-old. Zeppenfeld’s father arranged the flight with a friend who was a World War I pilot.
Enlisting in the Army in September 1941 as a private, he was inducted at Cumberland Induction Center in Pennsylvania. His career started in artillery at Fort Bragg, N.C. In 1942, the Army sent him to Officer Candidate School citing his "intelligence and detail to duty." Following his commission, he was sent to flight school at Fort Sill where he received his aviator wings. By the time Zeppenfeld was a major; he had recorded 5,000 hours of flying time and became one of 25 of the Army’s 6,000 pilots to receive the Master Army Aviator Wings. Zeppenfeld was qualified in twenty-seven single and multi-engined civilian and military fixed wing aircraft and also qualified in five different helicopters, including the three models of the turbine-powered "Huey", the helicopter so widely used in Vietnam.
During World War II, Zeppenfeld served as an Air Observation Pilot. His flying duties included observing artillery firing on enemy targets, reconnaissance and liaison flights and courier flights.
Zeppenfeld’s diary detailed daily life for a young soldier during World War II. A pilot for the 101st Airborne Division, he supported the invasion of Europe on D-Day, the holding of Bastogne and the Battle of the Bulge.
For his duty to his country, Zeppenfeld was awarded numerous awards including the Air Medal with 2nd Oak Leaf Cluster, the Purple Heart for wounds received in battle and the European-African-Middle Eastern Ribbon with Three Battle Stars.
During his career, Zeppenfeld also served in Japan, Korea, Holland, England and throughout the United States. In 1962, Zeppenfeld became the Deputy Commander of Davison Army Airfield, Fort Belvoir, with the mission to support flights for the Congress and the President of the United States. Zeppenfeld piloted both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson while at that duty assignment.
Following his retirement from the Army in 1968, Zeppenfeld relocated to Alexandria and continued to serve his country as a civil servant and federal employee for 17 years. Zeppenfeld will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
Zeppenfeld was preceded in death by his wife of 40 years, Hazel Taylor Zeppenfeld. He is survived by his daughters, Sally Martin, Mary Norris and Barbara Abel, 3 grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren.