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JOHN KIZIRIAN MELBOURNE Colonel John Kizirian, U.S. Army (ret.) passed away at Holmes Regional Med ical Center in Melbourne, FL on Saturday, February 26, following a brief ill ness. He was born on April 4, 1928 in Whitinsville, Massachu setts, to parents who had emi grated from Kharpert, Armenia. In May of 1945, at the age of seventeen and an Eagle Scout, his military career began. He joined the Navy and was sent to San Diego to be trained for action in the Pacific. However, the war ended just before he was shipped out. After an honorable discharge from the Navy in 1949, he soon resumed his military career and joined the Army. In his 25 years with the Army, he rose to the rank of full colonel. At the time of his first retirement in 1975, Colonel Kizirian was the most highly decorated officer in the history of Army Intelligence, with 66 decorations and awards. He served with distinction in Korea and Vietnam, with three battle campaigns in Korea, and six in Vietnam. While a lieuten ant colonel in Vietnam, he often personally led troops in special combat missions. These mis sions were very dangerous, resulting in two purple hearts and a Distinguished Service Cross. Many colleagues argued that he should have been awarded the Medal of Honor instead of the Distinguished Service Cross, but his outspo ken nature probably created too many foes in high places. He worked closely with Gen eral William Westmoreland in Vietnam. He was Senior Intelli gence Advisor to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam III Corps, concurrently as Com mander, III Corps Military Intelli gence Detachment and Senior Advisor to the Vietnamese III Corps Reconnaissance Element until the summer of 1968. After graduating from the U.S. Army War College in 1970, he returned to Vietnam and served as the Assistant Chief of Staff Intelligence, G2, First Air Cavalry Division. Probably his greatest military achievement was his prediction of the Tet Offensive, while with Army Intelligence in Bien Hoa (20 miles north of Saigon), based on the 400 or so intelli gence reports that came to his desk every day. He raised the alarm, but at first no one took the warning seriously. It took a briefing with General Abrams to get any action. This warning very likely saved thousands of American and South Vietna mese lives. Like his work in uncovering the Tet Offensive, most of his accomplishments and successes took place behind the scenes. One of his dearest friends, the late General James Hamlet, once said, Colonel Kizirian is one of Americas greatest heroes, but nobody knows it. In 1980, he was recalled to active duty and served in the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, as the Senior U.S. Defense Represen tative and the U.S. Defense Attach to the Republic of Indo nesia until 1984, when he retired for the second time. He was offered a high level position in the office of the Secretary of Defense by Alexander Haig, but opted to decline due to his first wife Ediths terminal illness. Among his 39 decorations are the Distinguished Service Cross, Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit (4 awards), Distinguished Flying Cross, Soldiers Medal, Bronze Star with V for Valor (6 awards), and Purple Heart (3 awards). Colonel Kizirians distin guished career has earned him a place in Honolulus Hall of Heroes. In addition, his record and accomplishments are sub jects of study in military educa tion course in army intelligence. He earned a Masters of Sci ence degree in Sociology from Florida State University, and a bachelors degree from Univer sity of Nebraska at Omaha. His military education included Spe cial Forces Officers Course, Area Intelligence Officers Course, and Foreign Service Institute, Department of State. John Kizirian will be remem bered with great respect and love. His family and friends recall his dry wit and talent for story telling. He was a caring man and always a gentleman. Wherever he went in the world, from Southeast Asia to Texas, he made life-long friends. He enjoyed traveling, boating and flying. Survivors include his wife, Carol; son, John Serop (Betty) Kizirian of Deerbrook, WI; daughter, Joanne (Hampton) Lewis of San Antonio, TX; step- daughter, Angela; sisters, Ani (Paul) Bazigian of San Francisco, CA and Margaret Kevorkian of Rolling Meadows, IL; thirteen grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents, Serop and Maritza Kizirian. Funeral services will be held Saturday, March 11, 2006, at 11 a.m. at St. Pauls Anglican Church. Interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors on March 24, 2006, at 9 a.m. Anyone planning expressions of sympathy is asked to con- sider St. Pauls Anglican Church, 7200 N. Wickham Road, Melbourne, FL 32940.
Published in FLORIDA TODAY on Mar. 5, 2006
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