Fallen Marine receives award
By Emily Fletcher

Christopher E. Zimny, a 2000 graduate of ISU's School of Social Work, has been posthumously awarded as the United Service Organizations Marine of the Year.

Zimny was chosen out of 40,000 Marines to receive the prestigious award.

Zimny enlisted in the Marines following the 9-11 terrorist attacks. During his stint in the military, Zimny was injured on three separate occasions, warranting two Purple Hearts.

He continued to serve our country despite injuries until his death Jan. 31, 2005, when his patrol was attacked by an improvised explosive device, according to a College of Arts and Sciences newsletter article.

Judith Sevel, director of field education for ISU, was Zimny's adviser at ISU.

"My experience with him was he was a sort of laid-back, easy going guy... He walked around in Hawaiian shirts, kind of a beach boy look," Sevel said.

Sevel said Zimny was a selfless student concerned with caring for and improving the lives of others.

"It doesn't surprise me that he always put others before himself. He was a male in social work. He worked with the elderly during his internship through PATH. Part of his persona and the way he moved about in the world was of service to others," Sevel said.

Zimny showed exceptional leadership and service both in and out of the military, according to Judy Pitchford, president and CEO of USO of North Carolina.

"The USO of North Carolina recognizes one member of each branch of the armed forces annually. This person is recognized for going above and beyond and is the epitome of what a military member is all about."

The USO provides a letter to each branch of the military. Each branch then selects a member they think would best represent them. This year Camp Lejeune of North Carolina selected Zimny to represent the United States Marine Corps.

Pitchford said Zimny's recommendation from the Marines was exactly what the USO was looking for in a representative service member.

"Corporal Zimny was the epitome of what a Marine is all about. I'm a retired gunnery sergeant myself and when I received his recommendation from the Marine Corps, I just had to sit back for a few minutes and take it all in," Pitchford said.

Giving the award out posthumously is rare, which goes to show Zimny's outstanding service, she continued.

"They could have chosen any of the 40,000 [Marines] that are serving at Camp Lejeune and those are the ones that are living. To go that much further and leave that kind of legacy that you want to be remembered even though you are not there, to receive the award speaks higher volumes of the Marine," Pitchford said.

"The USO of North Carolina, its Board of Directors, the staff members, the volunteers, the gala committee," Pitchford said, "got to know [Zimny] even though we never met him and I just feel honored for him to hold our title of Marine of the Year," Pitchford said.

Ellie