Colonel George A. Zinn was born at Shippensburg, Cumberland County, Pa., on January 24th, 1861. He was the son of Henry I. and Mary A. Zlnn. His father was killed in action at Fredericksburg, Va., while leading his regiment, the 130th Pennsylvania Infantry in an advance. He organized this regiment and was its first Colonel.
George Zinn led a very quiet boyhood, being always of a very retiring nature. He did not have any unusual hobbies as a boy, but he was interested in railroading and worked for a time in this occupation. Due to the military background of his father, he very readily decided upon a military career and he entered West Point as a cadet, July 1st, 1879.
He graduated at the head of his class on June 13th, 1883 and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers. Of the ninety-four men who entered West Point with him, only fifty-one graduated with him.
Considering the average peace time promotion of his active days in the Army, his own promotion was quite fast. He was promoted to First Lieutenant on June 2nd, 1884, less than a year after he graduated from West Point. Some of his contemporaries had to wait 14 years in the grade of Second Lieutenant. He was promoted to Captain on February 3rd, 1895; to Major on April 13th, 1903; to Lieutenant Colonel on May 8th, 1908 and to Colonel on August 12th, 1913. He retired, after 40 years’ service on September 10th, 1919.
Colonel Zinn’s first station as an officer was at Willett’s Point. N. Y., later known as Fort Totten. For a number of years the Corps of Engineers maintained its School of Application at Willet’s Point, from which the Colonel graduated in 1886.
In our Army, and especially in the years of the Colonel’s active duty, the greater part of an Engineer Officer’s time was spent on River and Harbor Work. He was stationed at various times at Wheeling, W. Va.: Louisville, Ky.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Chicago, Ill.; Fort Monroe, Va. and Porland, Me. He was also stationed at Washington, D.C. on the Nicaragua Canal Survey.
Colonel Zinn was Chief Engineer in Northern Luzon in the Philippines in 1900 and 1901. He came home via the Suez Canal with Engineer Troops, being one of the relatively few to return home that way. Later on he was on duty with Engineer Troops at Jefferson Barracks, Mo. and Fort Leavenworth, Kan. He was also with Engineer Troops and on the staff of General Pershing in Mexico in 1916 and 1917.
After his retirement, he lived at Atlantic City, N.J. and South Portland, Maine. He was a very accomplished French scholar and spent much of his time translating for the War Department.
He lived to enjoy a very full life. Only four of his classmates and less than twenty who graduated before him are now living.
In 1893, he married Matilda Van Ness Loney of Baltimore, Md., who survives him.
Colonel Zinn all through his life had a retiring disposition, but he had many friends. They will miss talking to a man who possessed such a brilliant mind, which was active to the very end.
—Albert S. Fuger, Colonel U.S. Army Retired