WARSAW — Rory Eugene Zimpelman, Warsaw, was honored as Veteran of the Month at the Kosciusko Commissioners meeting Tuesday, Aug. 20.
Zimpelman, the son of Randy and Elizabeth Zimpelman, was born in 1982 and grew up in the Akron area. He attended Tippecanoe Valley Middle School, and graduated from North Miami High School in 2002.
A month after his high school graduation, Zimpelman went to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, in San Diego, Calif., for recruit training. Zimpelman said he initially wanted to join a C130 Aircraft flight crew; but changed his mind when this did not turn out to be what he had envisioned.
He cross-trained into data communications and radio operations, which led him to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif.
Around this time, the US military invaded Iraq. Following Zimpelman’s completion of schooling and training, he received orders to go to Camp Lejune, N.C., where he was stationed with the 2nd Marine Division Headquarters Company Service & Support Battalion.
Near the end of 2004, Zimpelman’s unit received an assignment to Iraq, flying out on Feb. 5, 2005.
“I spent the next year of my life there,” Zimpelman said. “It was a hot, dry, smelly place, and I can’t say I enjoyed my stay there.”
Zimpelman said the locals liked to communicate with them — and did so with mortars and rockets. “Our base was basically target practice,” he said.
While in Iraq, Zimpelman received the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal and the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
Zimpelman was honorably discharged in 2006.
“When I signed up, 9/11 hadn’t happened yet and I had no idea where Iraq even was,” Zimpelman said.
After returning home to Warsaw, Zimpelman obtained a job at Zimmer Biomet where he met his future wife, Jessica. The two have been married six years.
“Rory joined the Marines before he graduated high school. When I asked him why, he said he wanted a challenge,” said Zimpelman’s mother, Elizabeth. “He is still challenging himself every day. He loves pushing himself, whether it’s beating his times at a triathlon event or learning a new skill, such as woodworking. Rory believes in doing what is right for his family, his community and his country.”
In his free time, Zimpelman enjoys participating in triathlons, bowling, hiking, woodworking and riding his motorcycle.
Zimpelman said his late grandfather, Major Thomas Daniel, was a huge influence on him as a child. Daniel was a pilot in the Air Force from 1955-1975 and served in combat in both Korea and Vietnam. Daniel served with Special Forces Unit 1 Mobile Strike Force in Da Nang, Vietnam. His military honors included two Purple Hearts and the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross.
“He was and still is my hero,” Zimpelman said.
Zimpelman was presented with a plaque at the commissioners meeting “in recognition for his outstanding contribution to the mission of serving the people of the United States and the residents of Kosciusko County and for honorable service.”
“I really appreciate the acknowledgment,” Zimpelman said. “It feels good to be acknowledged.