Roll of Honor

Zachary Jake VanderGriend

Zachary Jake VanderGriend

  • Crew Chief
  • Neptune Aviation Service, Inc., USDA Forest Service Contract
  • Montana
  • Age: 25
  • Year of Death: 2008

Zachary was born on June 1‚ 1983. From the age of two‚ Zach wanted to fly and become a missionary pilot. God put Zachary in locations where the right people were in place to mentor him and help with his dream of flight. Early on‚ Zach learned how to handle tools from his ïPopPop’ Jake. As he grew‚ Zach was involved in museum work as a docent‚ detailer and aircraft restorer; there his love of old warbirds and radial engines grew.

Zach then became acquainted with EAA 579 and their Young Eagle program. Zach never missed a ïfree flight’ day. He spent many hours volunteering‚ giving tours of the B-17‚ grilling burgers and working as lineman during free flight days. Zach was awarded a scholarship to attend the EAA’s Air Academy in Oshkosh‚ Wisconsin. He was given the Presidential Youth Service Award at the unveiling of the Butch O’Hare memorial at O’Hare Airport‚ an aircraft Zach helped restore. Zach received his private pilot’s license six weeks after he started training and then began giving free flights to children. Because of Zach’s willingness to give back and his love of service‚ he was given the first ever Eagle Award by EAA 579.

Zach attended Moody Bible Institute‚ where he served as president of the aviation club; Moody School of Aviation; Spokane Community College; and Grace University in Omaha‚ Nebraska. Zach became an airframe and power plant mechanic and earned his degree in business aviation. From the time Zach could work‚ he was around the aviation community; working at detailing war birds and corporate jets‚ lineman at several fixed base operations across the country‚ as well as an A&P mechanic.

Zach started his dream job on Memorial Day 2008. It was at Neptune Aviation where Zach’s love of people‚ service and history all came together. He was called to fight fires on August 1‚ 2008‚ and was called home en route to the Smitty Fire in California on September 1‚ 2008.

Zach loved life; he was passionate about his faith in Jesus Christ. He loved his family and adored his little sister. He enjoyed working; whether it was restoring a car or an airplane‚ Zach loved to ‘turn wrenches.’ He loved to travel‚ fish‚ hunt‚ read‚ ski‚ and he always enjoyed a good laugh. A talented musician and actor‚ Zach loved people; he had friends of every age all over the world. He was a joy to be with‚ and his smile could light up a room. Zach loved to fly because it was there he felt closest to God. Zach was compassionate and generous to a fault. He was loyal‚ energetic‚ and he will always be loved.

Memorial Wall

  1. For Zachary VanderGriend honored 2009. This morning was another day of thinking about you and remembering the good times. As your Dad was ready to leave for work, I looked and his ‘gig line’ wasn’t straight! I could hear your laugh! We chuckled a little and then the tears came, Zachary, you are so missed, so very loved.

    – Marci VanderGriend
  • (will not be published)