U.S. Army Operational Testers' Hall of Fame

  Capt. Ewald Zirfas


Inducted October 4, 1995

August 14, 1940 - January 8, 1968

Test Officer
U.S. Army Artillery Board
Fort Sill, Oklahoma, 1965-1968



Capt. Ewald Zirfas was born in Bruehl, Germany.  He was commissioned a second lieutenant of Field Artillery on August 31, 1965.

On September 1, 1965, Zirfas was assigned as a Project Officer with the United States Army Field Artillery Board, Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  Later in 1967, he was assigned as a Test Officer for the Visual Airborne Target Location System.

The need for this item of equipment was critical to the combat operations in Vietnam, and it was determined that an operational test in country would best serve those needs.

First Lieutenant Zirfas accompanied the new equipment to Vietnam to conduct the test.  On January 8, 1968, while transporting components of the system to the test site, the helicopter in which he was riding crashed.

The cause of the crash was never determined.  All personnel and crew aboard were considered "Killed In Action."  Zirfas was posthumously promoted to captain, and he was interred at the National Cemetery at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri.

Zirfas was the first and only known operational tester to be killed in a combat zone while conducting an assigned test.  He gave his life in the pursuit of operational testing mission accomplishment.  He demonstrated outstanding effort that is an inspiration to current and future testers to go wherever necessary to satisfy the criteria specified for an operational test.