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University of North Carolina
Naval ROTC Alumni Association

LT Elmo Russell Zumwalt, III

United States Navy

Date of Birth: July 30, 1946

Next of Kin:
Kathy Counselman Zumwalt (wife)
Maya Zumwalt (daughter)
Elmo Russel Zumwalt, IV (son)

Commissioned: 1968

Circumstances of Death:

Died in August 1988 as a result of cancer believed to be caused by exposure to Agent Orange, a defoliant used by the U.S. Armed Forces in Vietnam. The defoliant was sprayed continually along the rivers he and his crew patrolled.

Bronze Star (2)
Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry

History of Service:

Upon commissioning, Elmo Zumwalt III attended the Navy Communications Course in Newport Rhode Island and later reported to USS Claude B. Ricketts (DDG-5) in Norfolk as the Electronics Officer. In 1969, he volunteered to serve as a swift boat commander, one of the most dangerous assignments in Vietnam. As a LTJG, he took command of Swift Boat PCF-35. During his service in Vietnam, his father, ADM Elmo Zumwalt Jr. served as the U.S. Navy Commander in Vietnam (and would later become Chief of Naval Operations). During his tour, he was awarded two Bronze Stars for heroic conduct. He and his crew also received the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry for their heroism in Cambodia.

Due to budget constraints, he and other NROTC officers were informed that they would not be able to serve a 3rd year. He left Vietnam in June 1970 to attend law school at the University of North Carolina and joined a law practice in North Carolina after graduating in 1973.

It was in 1983 that Elmo learned that he had developed cancer. He believed that it was Agent Orange that caused his cancer - a rare combination of both Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and Hodgkin's Disease. He died in August 1988.

Literary Works:

Elmo Zumwalt co-authored the book My Father, My Son (published in 1986) with his father Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, Jr. USN (Ret.)

If you have additional information or material (anecdotes, photos, etc.) about this alumnus, please contact our secretary.


For information, please contact:  secretary@uncnrotcaa.org

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