Colonel William A. Phillips

Melvin Zais (May 8, 1916 – May 7, 1981) was a United States Army general who served in the Second World War and Vietnam War.

Military career

Zais attended the University of New Hampshire and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. In 1937 he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Army Reserve. In 1940 he was a member of the original Parachute battalion later the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. During World War II, Zais was the commander of the 3rd Battalion and, later, executive officer of the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment, fighting in Italy, in southern France, and in the Battle of the Bulge.

Zais attended the United States Army Command and General Staff College, and was also a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College, and the National War College. He was promoted to brigadier general on June 1, 1964; major general on May 1, 1967; and lieutenant general on August 1, 1969. He was named Commanding General, Allied Land Forces South-Eastern Europe, Izmir, Turkey, effective August 1973 following his promotion to general on July 13 the month prior.

Zais' assignments included Commander, 1st Infantry Division, United States Army, Vietnam, 1966; Director of Individual Training, Office, Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, United States Army, Washington, D.C., 1966–68, during this time he led the army liaison team responsible for the involvement of Federal troops in suppressing the April 1968 Baltimore riot;[1]:320-2 Commanding General, 101st Airborne Division (then designated as Airmobile), Vietnam, 1968–69. He led the 101st Airborne Division in the Battle of Hamburger Hill against the People's Army of Vietnam. He then became the Commanding General, XXIV Corps, Vietnam, 1969–70.

After returning from Vietnam, Zais served Director for Operations, J-3, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C., 1970–72 and as Commanding General, Third United States Army from 1972 to 1973.

On August 1, 1973 Zais was promoted to the rank of four-star general and appointed as Commander, Allied Land Forces South-Eastern Europe. He held the position until his retirement on May 31, 1976. Zais died on May 5, 1981 in Beaufort, South Carolina.[2]

Awards and decorations

Combat Infantry Badge.svg Combat Infantryman Badge
ArmyAvnBadge.png Basic Army Aviator Badge
1 star jump.svg Master Combat Parachutist Badge with one bronze jump star
Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge
United States Army Staff Identification Badge.png Army Staff Identification Badge
ViPaBa.jpg Vietnam Master Parachutist Badge
US 101st Airborne Division patch.svg 101st Airborne Division Shoulder Sleeve Insignia
ArmyOSB.svg 9 Overseas Service Bars
Bronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg Army Distinguished Service Medal with three bronze oak leaf clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Silver Star with oak leaf cluster
Bronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart
"V" device, brass.svgAward numeral 2.svgAward numeral 6.png Air Medal with Valor device and bronze award numeral 26
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
American Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star
American Campaign Medal
Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svgBronze-service-star-3d-vector.svgBronze-service-star-3d-vector.svgBronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four service stars
World War II Victory Medal
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with service star
Silver-service-star-3d.svgBronze-service-star-3d-vector.svgBronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg Vietnam Service Medal with seven service stars
National Order of Vietnam, Grand Officer
National Order of Vietnam, Officer
Noribbon.svg Unidentified ribbon
Vietnam Army Distinguished Service Order Ribbon-First Class.svg Vietnam Army Distinguished Service Order, 1st class
Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm
Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal ribbon-First Class.svg Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal, 1st class
Vietnam Civil Actions Medal ribbon-First Class.svg Vietnam Civil Actions Medal, 1st class
Noribbon.svg Unidentified ribbon
Noribbon.svg Unidentified ribbon
Gallantry Cross Unit Citation.png Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation
Civil Action Unit Citation.png Vietnam Civil Actions Medal Unit Citation
Vietnam Campaign Medal


  1. ^ Scheips, Paul (2005). The Role of Federal Military Forces in Domestic Disorders, 1945–1992 (PDF). US Army Center of Military History. ISBN 9781517253783. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ Josh Barbanel (1981-05-07). "GEN. MELVIN ZAIS, 64, FORMER NATO CHIEF FOR SOUTHEAST EUROPE – Obituary". United States: Retrieved 2012-02-14.

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Commanding General of the Third United States Army
Succeeded by
Warren Bennett
Preceded by
Olinto M. Barsanti
Commanding General of the 101st Airborne Division
Succeeded by
John Wright