Anthony D. Zelnio

1924 - 2016

Air Force

Their Story

Anthony D. Zelnio was born on April 28, 1924, in Moline, Illinois, the son of Maria Ivanowski and Dyzmo Zelnio. His father died on May 27, 1945, and his mother died in 1955.1 He participated in Boy Scouts at Irving School.2 He attended Moline High School and took first place in state in a music contest. He was a clarinet soloist.3 Zelnio married Norma L. Dendooven in Moline, Illinois, on July 3, 1945. Anthony and Norma had three sons, Thomas, Robert, and William. Norma died on January 17, 2010, in Silvis, Illinois.4

Zelnio registered for the draft on June 26, 1942, and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces on February 16, 1943, in Peoria, Illinois.5 He had been working at John Deere Harvester Works in East Moline. He received training in radio operating and mechanics at Scott Air Force Base before being sent overseas in August 1944. Zelnio was stationed in England with the 359th Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force as an aerial gunner on a B-17.6

He was shot down on a raid over Germany on September 28, 1944, and was a prisoner of war for seven months in Stalag 9C near Leipzig, Germany.7 He was originally reported as missing in action in September but was reported as being held prisoner by the Nazis in December. He was liberated in April 1945 and sent to a hospital in France. He had been wounded in the left leg at the time of his capture and needed treatment.8

Sergeant Zelnio was given a medical discharge on September 3, 1945.9 He was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart for his service during World War II.10

After leaving the service, Zelnio was employed by John Deere Harvester Works and Reynolds Engineering for a combined 40 years.11 He attended St. Mary’s Church in Moline, Illinois. Zelnio was a member of several organizations, including the Material Handling Society, John Deere Supervisors Club, John Deere Retirees, Moline Senior Citizens, American Legion Post 246, Vikings Club, and the American Prisoners of War Society.12

Anthony D. Zelnio died on August 4, 2016, in East Moline, Illinois. The Moline American Legion Post 246 presented military honors. He was survived by his sons, Thomas (Sharon) Zelnio, Robert (Joanie) Zelnio, and William (Laurie) Zelnio; grandchildren, Jeff, Ryan, Kevin, Erin, Chris, Stephanie, Elizabeth, and Steven; and great-grandchildren, Elliott, Freya, Ariana, Madoc, Noah, and Hudson.13


1 Anthony D. Zelnio – Facts (

2 13 May 1941, 13 – The Dispatch at

3 21 Apr 1941, 4 – The Dispatch at

4 Norma L. Dendooven Zelnio (1925-2010) – Find a Grave Memorial.

5 Anthony D Zelnio in WWII Army Enlistment Records – Fold3

6 04 Sep 1945, 2 – The Dispatch at

7 19 Apr 1945, 21 – The Daily Times at

8 Article from 18 Apr 1945, 17 – The Dispatch at

9 04 Sep 1945, 2 – The Dispatch at

10 Anthony D Zelnio’s memorial page – Honor Veterans Legacies at VLM (

11 Anthony D. Zelnio (1924-2016) – Find a Grave Memorial

12 07 Aug 2016, 4 – The Rock Island Argus at

13 07 Aug 2016, 4 – The Rock Island Argus at