ZAUN, JEFFREY NORTON
Name: Jeffrey Norton Zaun
Rank/Branch: O3/US Navy
Unit: VA35, USS SARATOGA
Home City of Record: Cherry Hill NJ
Date of Loss: 18 January 1991
Country of Loss: Iraq
Status: Prisoner of War
Status in 2002: Released 03/04/91
Other Personnel in Incident: Robert Wetzel (released)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 09 March 1991 from one
or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources,
published sources, interviews. Updated by the POW NETWORK 2012.
REMARKS: OPERATION DESERT STORM
SYNOPSIS: Jeffrey N. Zaun was raised in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. At Cherry
High School West, Zaun was an ROTC member and active in gymnastics.
Following his graduation in 1980, Zaun was appointed to the U.S. Naval
Academy at Annapolis, from which he graduated in 1984.
Zaun eventually took flight training, but eyesight problems kept him from
his desired position - that of pilot. He trained as weapons systems
operator, a rear-seat position, in the A6E Intruder fighter/bomber.
The Grumman A6 Intruder is a two-man all weather, low-altitude,
carrier-based attack plane, with versions adapted as aerial tanker and
electronic warfare platform. The A6A primarily flies close-air-support,
all-weather and night attacks on enemy troop concentrations, and night
interdiction missions. Its advanced navigation and attack system allows
small precision targets, such as bridges, barracks and fuel depots to be
located and attacked in all weather conditions, day or night. Their crews
are among the most talented and most courageous to serve the United States.
Zaun was assigned to Oceana Naval Air Station at Virginia Beach, Virginia
with Attack Squadron 35 (VA35 - "Black Panthers"). Ultimately, his squadron
shipped out on the USS SARATOGA and was stationed in the Red Sea when
hostilities began in the Middle East in 1991.
On January 18, 1991, Zaun flew as backseater to LT Robert Wetzel's A6E in
early attacks on Iraqi military targets. Zaun and Wetzel's target was the H3
Airfield in Southwest Iraq. The aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft artillery
over the desert. Zaun, at least, ejected from the aircraft and was captured
by Iraqi forces.
On January 20, 1991, a video interview of Zaun was broadcast on Iraqi
television. First the audio portion, then the video were shown in the U.S.
by Cable News Network (CNN). Zaun and six other Allied POWs (including two
other Americans) had been paraded through Bagdhad in a propaganda move and
coerced into making "peace" statements. All appeared to be speaking under
extreme duress. While the Pentagon has yet to confirm the identity of the
Americans in the film, Zaun's family confirmed that the man appearing in the
interview was their son. Wetzel was not mentioned in the report. Also on
January 20, Iraqi stated that POWs would be used as "human shields" to
protect their important military sites from attack by Allied forces.
On January 24, international news again showed a propaganda interview with
Zaun, still captive but alive.
Until March 3, 1991, no one knew the fate of Robert Wetzel. On that day,
both Wetzel and Zaun were released by the Iraqis in a group of six American
POWs. Zaun, whose battered face is said to have united America behind the
POWs and the troops serving in Desert Storm, had healed and both men from
the "Black Panther" squadron greeted cameras with smiles.
Jeffrey N. Zaun is unmarried, and is a 1984 graduate of the United Stated
Naval Academy at Annapolis. He is the son of Calvin Zaun.
Calvin Zaun, 83, father of Persian Gulf War POW
Calvin Zaun, 83, of Cherry Hill, the father of an American POW whose battered face became an iconic image during the Persian Gulf War,
died Sunday, May 27, at the Lutheran Home nursing-care facility in Moorestown after a long illness.
Mr. Zaun's son, Jeffrey, was held captive for six weeks by Saddam Hussein's forces in 1991. Calvin and Marjorie Zaun found their quiet
lives on Whitman Avenue in Cherry Hill plunged into a media maelstrom after their son's captors paraded Jeffrey Zaun and other prisoners
of war on Iraqi TV and forced them to read propaganda statements on Jan. 20......