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PacNote #8 – In Memoriam: Admiral Ronald J. “Zap” Zlatoper, USN (Ret.)

Pacific Forum deeply mourns the passing of Adm. Ronald J. “Zap” Zlatoper, USN (Ret.), at age 80.

The Pacific Forum has lost a valued mentor and good friend. We are deeply shocked and saddened by the passing of Adm. Ronald J. “Zap” Zlatoper, USN (Ret.), at age 80 on April 21, 2022. Zap was a long-time member of the Pacific Forum’s Board of Governors and a regular at our Honolulu International Forum roundtables, where his penetrating questions and comments were always treasured.

Admiral Zlatoper entered the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) in 1959 and served as an aviator until his retirement in 1997 as Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet. His commands included Attack Squadron EIGHT FIVE (VA-85), Carrier Air Wing ONE (CVW-1), Carrier Air Wing FIFTEEN (CVW-15), and Carrier Group SEVEN (CARGRU 7). He was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross and 11 Air Medals. He was aboard USS Forrestal (CVA-59) during her conflagration in 1967.

Admiral Zlatoper served our nation with extraordinary distinction in three major conflicts, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

He was first and foremost a warrior, flying over 150 combat missions during the Vietnam War and Desert Storm. His 4,375 flight hours included 1,031 fixed wing and 10 helicopter carrier/ship recoveries, including over 300 night traps on carriers throughout his career.

Most notably, he served as Chief of Naval Personnel and Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet before retiring in 1997.

Admiral Zlatoper was the founder of Strategic Transitions Research. He served as Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sanchez Computer Associates, Inc. He was active in numerous organizations in addition to the Pacific Forum. He served as a Trustee of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and served on the boards of Penn State University—Great Valley, the board of advisors of the School of Public Management of the George Washington University, the USS Missouri Memorial Foundation, and the Military Aviation Museum of the Pacific (now Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum). Other boards included the East-West Center, Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation, Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii—Military Affairs Council, Catholic Charities of Hawaii, and the Alexis de Tocqueville Society of the United Way. He became Trustee of the James Campbell Estate, and also served on the Dean’s Council of the University of Hawaii College of Engineering and was a regent for Chaminade University. He was also honorary consul of the Slovenia Consulate General in Hawai’i. Admiral Zlatoper will be sorely missed.

Memorial Service Information

A memorial Mass and remembrance was held at 2 p.m. HST today at the Pearl Harbor Memorial Chapel.

In lieu of flowers for the memorial, the Zlatoper family has requested guests make a charitable donation in honor of Admiral Zlatoper.