Bond of Brothers: Interboro graduates are both serving their country

Dominic F. "Dom" Zappone, 20, liked to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Anthony E. "Tony" Zappone Jr. in sports at Interboro High School.

The Zappone brothers now have also joined the U.S. Marine Corps about eight months apart: Tony enlisted in February 2006; Dom the following October. They are both privates first class.

At Interboro, both also were cited with honors for their football accomplishments: Dom was a first-team All-Del Val selection in December 2003; Tony received All-Delco recognition as a defensive lineman in December 2002.

The Interboro Buccaneers had a wild ride in November 2002, that ended with a 26-14 loss to North Penn in the PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinals. The Bucs finished the season with a 10-3 record. At the time, their proud coach, Steve Lennox, said, "They play with heart, my kids. They never quit, they never give up. I told them that I'm proud to be their coach."

"No one expected us to be here," then defensive end/tight end Tony Zappone said at the time. "No one respected us, because we're small. It doesn't matter the size or the skills. We're always the slowest or the shortest, but we play with heart. That's how we stay in games."

That same never-quit attitude will fare well for the Zappone brothers, as they proudly serve their country in the U.S. Marine Corps.

"Dominic was always in the shadow of Tony," said their mother, Regina Zappone, 44, a general manager for Cox Enterprises, AutoMart Division, in Huntingdon Valley, Montgomery County.

"They played every sport together and were always on the same team together." Those teams included the Kedron, Prospect Park and Glenolden youth clubs.

Their father, Anthony Zappone Sr., of Oxford, had coached them in basketball and baseball.

Tony graduated in June 2006 from boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., and is now stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Dom is at 29 Palms, Calif.

The older brother is undergoing training before he's deployed in June to serve in Iraq for nine months, according to his mother.

Dom graduated from boot camp Feb. 9 and is receiving his military occupational specialty training.

"I am extremely proud that both of these boys are doing something not only with their lives, but to stand and serve and protect the rest of the country as well," Regina Zappone said.

"Tony made the decision to go into the Marines; he was always the tough one. And like everything else in their lives, Dominic followed. They competed against each other all their life."

Even today, the two brothers are competing to make expert in their rifle training after they both earned sharpshooter medals.

"I have mixed feelings," their mother said. "I always have the dread of what if, having two children in the Marines.

"But my heart is also filled with much pride because they've made this decision on their own. No matter whatever the what if becomes, I'm at peace with their decision, and I couldn't be prouder."

Zappone pointed out that her sons both enlisted "when it's very dangerous to enlist, so they know the ramifications, and they signed on at their own (free) will.

"I just want them to be safe," she said. "They're doing what they set out to do ... they're saving our country."

Anthony graduated from Interboro High in 2003, with Dom following in 2004, but they apparently left a good impression with school officials.

Lennox, Interboro's football coach for the past 14 years, said, "Anthony epitomized what a Bucs football player is." He added that he was a very good receiver, and as a tight end, he was also a good blocker.

"He's unselfish and would do whatever was best for the team," Lennox said. "The team always came first with him. I think he would make a great Marine - and I'm sure he wouldn't let any of his fellow Marines down."

He said both young men were quiet individuals and "neither one of them would complain if we didn't throw the ball much, as long as the team won and everybody was happy.

"They'll do a great job," Lennox said. "And I'm sure they'll do the Marines proud and serve their country proudly. And we're proud of them."

Regina Zappone pointed out that her two Marine sons were able to attend their older brother Dustin's wedding in October as groomsmen. Dustin is 26.

The three brothers also had a fourth brother, Gus, who died when he was 6 months old because of a health problem with his lungs, she said.

"All three of my kids were raised knowing they had a brother who was their little angel," she said.

"Their baby brother will always be with them and protecting them."