HJ/EDJuly 3, 2006

Zachmann retires after 22-year career in Marines

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

Twenty-three years ago, sitting at his parents’ kitchen table in Winsted, just 17 years old and a junior in high school at Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted, Steven Zachmann enlisted in the Marine Corps for four years.

He left for boot camp almost one year later, July 30, 1984.

According to Zachmann, he wanted to travel the globe, and could see he had more educational opportunities available to him through the Marines.

He was thinking of his parents, Ron and Betty Zachmann, too. Steve thought that by letting the Marines take over the disciplining he felt he needed at that point in his life, he was giving his parents the break that they needed in raising him.

Zachmann also gives HLWW teacher Charlie Bush credit for having a major effect on decisions that he made at that time.

“He was a crucial influence on me in my junior and senior years of high school. I was nothing but trouble, for the most part. How he got me turned down a better path of life is still beyond me, but he did. I am sure that there are kids after me who he helped as well,” Zachmann said.

The first four years of his training in the Marine Corps were tough. What he liked about being a Marine was, “the brotherhood, the camaraderie, the friendships, the ‘I got your back – you have mine’ mentality that is part of being a Marine.”

When the time came for him to reenlist, he did. “I wasn’t sure what I was going to do if I got out, and I enjoyed the world-wide travel. I wanted to see a few more countries,” Zachmann said.

And see more countries he did. His tours of duty took him to El Salvador, Guatemala, Pakistan, Panama, Kenya, Germany, Somalia, India, and Kuwait.

On his list of amazing experiences in the Marines, is mastering the free fall from 27,500 feet above the earth.

“Experiencing the actual curvature of the earth, seeing it with my own eyes, feeling it, hearing it. With only a 38-pound parachute strapped to my back, reaching speeds of over 120 miles per hour; it is exhilarating. If there is such a feeling of cheating death, that would be the feeling, in my opinion. Once is never enough,” Zachmann said.

In reflecting on his time in the service, the most confusing thing to Zachmann was, “seeing the starvation throughout the world. Seeing it on TV or in a piece of mail, that’s saddening. But to see it firsthand, and being so limited to what we can do – how much we can help, that is demoralizing.”

The confusion for Zachmann came after helping an area to recover, then returning to the same spot on another tour of duty approximately 9 to 12 months later and finding a combat zone where they were shot at by the same people they had helped.

“It’s almost as if we helped them to harm them,” Zachmann said.

In 1989, while stationed in El Salvador, he met his wife, Patricia Amaya Oviedo, who was from San Salvador. They married in Guatemala City in 1991, and then married a second time at Holy Trinity Church in Winsted in 1992.

They have two sons, Garrett, 6, and Kody, 3.

A retirement ceremony took place in Yuma, Ariz., June 2 for Master Sergeant Steve Zachmann.

The ceremony recognized all that Zachmann had accomplished in his 22-year career, the formal education received, and medals and ribbons, including a combat action ribbon and humanitarian service medal. And many others, too numerous to list.

Zachmann’s parents were able to attend the retirement ceremony and their presence was appreciated. In fact, Zachmann insists that it was the support that his family gave him throughout his career that kept him going. He has always considered himself lucky to have the bond he has with his parents and siblings

Zachmann has an older sister, Shelly Lorentz of Champlin; and two older brothers, Dan and Mike, both of Howard Lake; and a younger sister, Anita Sutton of Watertown.

Since his retirement, Zachmann has been spending time with his wife and children. They were able to visit Disney World, and plan to spend some time in Winsted soon.

Catching fish is a priority in the Zachmann family so his return to Winsted will probably include a few fishing trips with his dad and brothers.

The Zachmanns plan to make their home in Yuma, Ariz. He is currently seeking federal employment in that region.

With his retirement, the one thing Zachmann is looking forward to the most is being able to be home full-time as a husband and father.

He wants to teach his two boys the things that his parents, family, and friends have taught him and maybe something of what he has learned from the Marine Corps, too.

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