2018 Spring LC Magazine

than academics — we were learning the social aspects of life. Later, when I went on active duty, that was one of the first things the Navy trained us in as midshipmen — military decorum and social graces — how to act overseas when invited to dinner, what silverware to use, et cetera. We were representing the country and they didn’t want us to embarrass the United States.” One place Zilch didn’t have to worry about attire was the football field — the domain of head coach T. Sherman Stanford, class of ’32, who also enforced the team’s code of conduct: no profanity and no “ugly talk” were allowed on or off the field. Zilch vividly recalls the 1947 junior varsity game against West Point played at the United States Military Academy. “We stayed overnight and played the plebes (freshman) at Army Stadium the next day.” The score was 53-13. “We didn’t feel defeated, but we lost big time.” The men graduated from WDSJC and continued on to flight school in Pensacola. While the original Holloway Plan called for the midshipmen to spend a year on the fleet as ensigns after flight training, then return to the Naval Academy to study and graduate with a degree in electrical engineering, the Korean War stopped that plan. The Flying Midshipmen The Korean War broke several traditions. It was the first war of the 20th century the United States entered without a declaration of war by Congress, and it mobilized large numbers of Reservists to meet the need for organized, trained personnel on short notice. Many of the Navy’s new aviation midshipmen were called into action. It would be the first time in the one hundred years since the Mexican-American War of 1846 that midshipmen would fight and die in combat. As a newly commissioned officer, Zilch was stationed with the Atlantic Fleet. Fortunately, he would not experience the horrors of combat, but he knows by heart the stories of midshipmen who served in combat heroically. In 1969, a handful of former aviation midshipmen formed the Flying Midshipmen Association. The association grew and at one time boasted 1,500 members; however, as members aged, the organization disbanded in 2010 and focused instead on creating a partnership that would preserve their stories and legacy. They launched the Flying Midshipmen Youth Aviation Training Program, partnering with the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, Calif., to provide an annual training program for young aviation enthusiasts to learn the basics of aviation and help them pass Federal Aviation Administration pilot knowledge tests. Zilch’s career in the Navy zigzagged between active duty and the reserves; he retired as a commander in 1971. Highlights of his naval career include a deployment during the Suez Canal Crisis in 1956 and later overseeing the meteorological support unit in Antarctica, conducting Operation Deep Freeze in 1966. He was honored by the U.S. Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names as the namesake of Zilch Cliffs, a series of steep cliffs that mark the McDonald Heights in Antarctica. After retiring from the Navy, Zilch became a teacher, instructing at Central Michigan University for a number of years. Today, he is a farmer, overseeing the 214 acres he and his wife own in Central Michigan where they’ve raised cattle, Morgan horses and their four children over the years. Leinbach also enjoyed a long career in the Naval Reserves, stepping away from active duty to pursue further education and a career as a helicopter test pilot with Boeing, retiring in 1972 as a commander. “I enjoyed all of my Navy experiences,” he shares. “I learned discipline and pride, traveled to many places, made many friends and learned to fly.” He, too, joined the halls of academia, utilizing his bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s in education, both earned at Bucknell University, to join the University of Central Florida as assistant director of admissions. Toy retired as a Naval captain, a rank just below admiral. The Flying Midshipmen story is one that still amazes Leinbach. “The Flying Midshipmen program was a great success,” he reflects. Even more amazing is that five attended the same school at the same time. “After World War II, there were approximately 2,000 colleges and universities, and there were almost 3,000 men in the Aviation Midshipmen program. What are the chances of five midshipmen attending the same college, graduating the same class year, and three of us retiring from the same profession?” To read the full version of this article, please visit www.lycoming.edu/flying-midshipmen. 24 LYCOMING COLLEGE 2018 SPRING MAGAZINE