Tony Wobler and Brandon Wobler stand beside the panel featuring SSG Zachary Wobler's name (at bottom) on the list of those who have been killed-in-action. (Putnam Sentinel/Nancy Kline)
Tony Wobler and Brandon Wobler stand beside the panel featuring SSG Zachary Wobler's name (at bottom) on the list of those who have been killed-in-action. (Putnam Sentinel/Nancy Kline)

 

OTTAWA — A fallen hero was given special honors Friday evening during a ceremony at the Putnam County Court House.

Staff Sergeant Zachary R. Wobler had his name added to the casualties list on the panel in the court house. Wobler, who was from Ottawa, died Feb. 6, 2005 in Mosel, Iraq when his dismounted patrol encountered enemy forces using small arms fire. The panel hangs in the court house alongside all past veterans that have served from our county.

Tony Wobler, Zach’s father, told the story of his son up until the day of his death.

Wobler was assigned to the Army’s 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was an Army Corps Trooper of the Year runner-up and recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

Wobler spoke on how proud he was when his son called to tell him he had been chosen as the soldier of the quarter with the 82nd Division.

“Then he called and told me he was named soldier of the brigade,” Wobler said. “Then he called and told me he was named the 82nd Airborne Paratrooper of the Year,” Wobler said. “I was beaming with pride.”

Wobler also spoke about Zach as a poet.

“He wrote once about in the middle of all the fighting, killing, devastation and noise, how he still saw a mother’s love when he saw a mother cat taking care of her kittens in Iraq.”

Wobler spoke of the day his son died. Zach was on his second deployment when he was made aware of a couple guys planting bombs on the side of the road. After receiving the required permission, the men were taken out. Zach and another soldier had to go stand by the bodies, a new military requirement for the second deployment.

While standing guard at the bodies, Zach was shot in the arm, leg and a bullet pierced an opening in his bullet-proof vest. Although they gave Zach 12 units of blood and tried to do surgery, they were unable to save him.

“Zach did not die in vain,” Wobler told the crowd of over 200 people who had crowded into the courthouse lobby for the ceremony. Wobler said he had fought so the people in Iraq had an opportunity to elect their own leader.

“They had 90 percent turnout at that election,” Wobler said, comparing it to Putnam County’s last voter turnout of 24 percent.

Zach’s brother, Brandon Wobler, read a letter SSG Wobler had written in 2004 to the citizens of the United States.

“I don’t do what I do for personal recognition, glory, pity or money,” Zach had written. “I do it for you, my fellow Americans. And now I ask one thing of you. Stand behind us.”

David Varcardipone, the CEO of First Fold, Inc., described a hero as someone who is willing to sacrifice for the betterment of others.

“We’re here to thank Zach as a hero for doing what he did,” Varcardipone said. First Fold held a golf tournament on Saturday to raise funds for the Zach Wobler Scholarship fund.

Carol McKeen provided vocal music during the ceremony, including the songs “Last Shots Fired” and “Tribute to Zach”.

“He wasn’t just an ordinary boy, he was your son,” she sang in her special tribute, moving many to tears.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Tony Wobler and Brandon Wobler separated the black curtain over the panel to reveal SSG Wobler’s name. Fort Jennings Post 715 and Ottoville VFW Post 3740 gave a 21-gun salute. The posting of the colors was done by Payne American Legion Post 297.

The event was organized by Joe Moenter and Kristi D. Powell with the Putnam County Veterans Service Office.