12/23/81 – 11/19/05
I am the proud mother of 1Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski, II who died in Iraq on November 19, 2005 during combat operations while serving in the United States Army with the 101st Airborne, 1stBatallion, 187th Infantry Regiment. Born December 23, 1981, Dennis’ greatest loves were God, his family, country, friends, swimming and the United States Army.
Dennis grew up in Middletown, attended Middletown Village School, Thorne Middle School and graduated from Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft. He was a member of The Middletown Reformed Church.
Dennis earned a nomination to the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated in 2004, having been elected Captain of the Men’s swim team as a “Firstie.” He received several awards while a student at West Point and also completed the U.S. Army’s Airborne School. Upon graduation at West Point, Dennis was accepted into Ranger School and graduated in March 2005.
I remember traveling to Kentucky when Dennis was deploying. We were there to lock up his home that he had purchased in Tennessee, and to drive his Jeep home. The sadness and fear was ever present in our thoughts as we said “so long,” too afraid to say good-bye. We spoke about the signs that we would depend upon during the deployment to keep our closeness. Now, after his death, those signs are still used to feel that closeness.
The Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski, II Memorial Fund was established in 2006 and is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization created to honor Dennis’ memory and spirit for life. Our mission is to support and improve the morale and welfare of members of the United States Armed Forces and their families.
Various donations are made during the course of the year to aid and assist our wounded warriors and to help bring them to wholeness after being injured. To date, our biggest accomplishment is the sponsorship of 28 service dogs for warriors with PTSD and/or TBI injuries. This program has been very successful in giving back the warrior his/her life by giving them the confidence to reintegrate themselves into society. We recently purchased a tandem bike for a blind warrior to compete in the Invictus Games held this month in Florida. This warrior received a Silver Medal. Last week, we paid for a leg amputation for a wounded warrior who received no support from the Veterans Administration. This is the second warrior that we have assisted with this surgery. Other donations include the support of our troops and our Military Working Dogs serving overseas with boxes of goodies.
In order to continue our work of supporting our servicemen/women, it is important that we continue to raise monies for the various projects. Please consider donating at www.RunWithDennis.org, or communicate with us at Runwithdennis@yahoo.com.
At this time of the year, I feel it is important for people to stop, take a moment and reflect on their freedom. Freedom is not free, it is bought and paid for by our men and women who raise their right hand, take a pledge to protect our rights and wear the uniform of our nation, ever ready to serve and protect. Remember especially those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice on this coming Memorial Day.
Marion R. Zilinski, Holmdel
Proud Mother of
1Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski, II