Colonel Zacheus Wheeler Ryall Jr. (USAF, Ret.)
Colonel Zacheus Wheeler Ryall Jr. (USAF, Ret.), devoted husband, father, gentleman and trusted friend to many, passed away Wednesday, March 13, 2013. He was 87. Zach was born January 28, 1926, at St. Joseph Hospital in Houston, Texas, to Zacheus W. Ryall and Marie Lucille (Polly) Day. He graduated from Corpus Christi High School in May 1943 and, shortly thereafter, enlisted in the Army
. He entered active service in 1944 in San Antonio, where he was trained as a radar mechanic. Over the next three years, he saw action in the Philippines, Okinawa and Japan. For that service, he was awarded the Asiatic Pacific Service Medal, the Philippine Liberation Service Medal with One Bronze Star
, the American Theater Service Medal and the Victory Medal. Zach was discharged from the Army as a sergeant in 1946. Zach's love for flying was evident early on when he took civilian flying lessons following his Army discharge. From 1946 to 1948, he studied aeronautical engineering at Northrop Aeronautical Institute in Hawthorne, CA before enlisting in the newly formed U.S. Air Force
. He was an aviation cadet at Fort MacArthur near Los Angeles. Zach graduated from basic pilot training at Perrin Field near Sherman, TX, received advanced multi-engine training at Enid Air Force Base in Oklahoma and then entered active Air Force duty in 1949. Over the next 27 years, Zach's domestic assignments included Shaw Air Force Base (South Carolina), Langley AFB (Virginia), Barksdale AFB (Louisiana), Holloman AFB (New Mexico) and the Pentagon. His tours abroad included the United Kingdom, Germany, Korea and Vietnam. During his 30-year military career, Zach received numerous medals and commendations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, multiple Air Medals, the Joint Service Commendation Medal and the Bronze Star. Beginning with the T-6 trainer, Zach went on to pilot many aircraft, including the B-25, B-45 and B-66 bombers, the T-33, the RF-4C Phantom in Vietnam, and the C-45. His closest call came while piloting a B-66 from Newfoundland to Florida in 1956. Zach and his two crew became the first ever to eject from this aircraft when they lost power over Blackstone, VA. All three crew parachuted to safety as the aircraft exploded below. Ever the gentleman, Zach hitched a ride with a passing soft drink salesman and returned to the crash site to apologize to the farm owners, whose home was yards away from the smoldering debris. In 1950 while at Barksdale AFB, Zach met and later married Mary Evelyn Jarriel. They had four children, Patti, Zach III, Ken and Nancy. The Ryall family enjoyed the variety and adventure of military life, spending much of their time in Germany and the UK. Zach and Ev transferred to Holloman AFB in Alamogordo, NM in 1973 for his final duty station. He retired as a Colonel in 1976 and the family moved to Austin, TX. Zach pursued a career in real estate, securing his broker's license. He enjoyed meeting and talking to people as much as selling homes, and spent much of his spare time building model airplanes he had collected over the years. One of his great retirement joys was his backyard pool, where he spent many summer days watching his grandchildren swim and his Yorkshire terriers Rugby and Rascal bark at the commotion. He also loved fishing with his youngest daughter, Nancy, and flying the skies of Texas with his sons in their single-engine Mooney aircraft. His wife Evelyn passed away in 1996, and Zach moved in 2003 to a retirement community he had discovered in Temple, TX while attending one of his military reunions. While there, Zach enjoyed new friendships and activities, and became a staff and resident favorite for his humor, thoughtfulness and generosity. When not driving to Austin for his favorite Tex-Mex food and to visit his children and grandchildren, he catalogued his extensive model airplane collection and documented his family history and colorful military career. Zach would drop anything he was doing to help family or friends, yet rarely asked for anything himself. He was happiest when he was doing for others. Zach is survived by his four children: Patti (and Doug) of Edina, MN; Zach III (and Kathlyn) of Austin; Ken (and Sandy) of Austin; and Nancy of Austin. He also has seven grandchildren: Katie, Haley, Devin, Timothy, Lily, Max and Lauren. Zach's sister Mary Sefton and brother Joe Ryall preceded him in death. Visitation will be at Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home, S. Congress location, on Friday, March 15, from 6-8 pm with funeral services there on Saturday at 2:30 pm. Graveside military honors will follow at Austin Memorial Park Cemetery. The Ryall family wishes to thank the dedicated staff of the Temple Meridian retirement community for their warm and exceptional care of Zach in his final years.