Was Honorary Marine : Youth, 15, Buried With Military Honors

Associated Press

With a Marine Corps honor guard firing a three-volley salute and a Marine bugler playing Taps, the ashes of 15-year-old John Zimmerman were interred with military honors here Thursday at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Zimmerman, the Fountain Valley youth whose love for the Marines helped him fight the muscular dystrophy that took his life, died on Jan. 18. President Reagan granted special permission for him to be buried in the military cemetery in Puowaina Crater, more commonly known as Punchbowl.

A Navy chaplain paid tribute to the youth as his parents, Richard and Sandra Zimmerman; his sister, Joan, 17, and his closest friend, Marine Staff Sgt. Bob Menke, sat by a stand that held the urn topped with the Marine Corps crest.

Menke, a recruiter in Huntington Beach, befriended Zimmerman several years ago, and the two became close friends. The youth was made an honorary Marine three days before he died.

"The Marine Corps has a saying, 'The Marines need a few good men.' They found one in John Zimmerman," said Col. Jack Graham in a brief tribute.

Zimmerman had requested burial in the cemetery, which overlooks Honolulu. "We were here about three years ago and took John and his sister to Punchbowl, and he was very impressed," Richard Zimmerman said.

"He knew the eventuality of his disease and said, 'This is where I want to be,' " he said.

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