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Erwin N. ‘Pete’ Ziner

Nov 21, 2020

NASHUA, N.H. – Erwin N. “Pete” Ziner, a World War II Army Air Corps veteran who flew in the Last Mission over Japan, and a Massachusetts native, died November 12 after a brief illness. Mr. Ziner was 97.

He served in the 315th Bomb Wing, 20th Army Air Corps in the Pacific Theater, as a First Lieutenant and radar operator.

His wife, Arline R. [Goldstein] Ziner, preceded him in death two years ago. Arline, whom he courted while she served with the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, was the love of his life. They celebrated their 70th anniversary at a family party in July 2018. At his nephew Dan’s wedding, Mr. Ziner said the secret to such an enduring marriage was to “marry the right woman.”

“Pete,” as his friends and family knew him, was a graduate of Northeastern University. He enjoyed a long career as a civil engineer. He was an avid golfer and downhill skier, well into his 80s.

He was a radar operator on a B-29 bomber during what was known as “The Last Mission” during WWII, which primarily targeted Japanese oil refineries. While flying back to their base at the island of Guam on August 25, 1945, the crew learned that the Japanese Emperor had surrendered, ending the war. Once they landed, they discovered the aircraft’s tail had been strafed and flak had just missed the propellers. His crew and most of the other B-29s in the Pacific subsequently flew mercy missions that dropped food and clothing to Allied prisoners of war in the region. 

Mr. Ziner was an excellent raconteur with an encyclopedic memory, who kept his family’s oral history alive. He frequently told war stories: he remained proud of his military service throughout his life. He recounted such infamous events as the 1942 Cocoanut Grove Fire in Boston; which claimed the life of a relative. He was a devoted football and baseball fan. For years he brought his children to Opening Day at Fenway Park.

Mr. Ziner and his family formerly lived in Woburn, MA; Miami Beach, Fla., and Wayland, Massachusetts. He and Mrs. Ziner moved to Nashua about 20 years ago.

Mr. Ziner leaves his son and daughter-in-law, David and Bette Ziner of Simpsonville, S.C.; his daughter, Karen Lee Ziner, of Providence, R.I., and his sister, Muriel Dane of Longmeadow, MA. His daughter Wendy Ravech preceded him in death. He also leaves his grandson, Dan Ziner, and Dan’s wife, Kelly Ziner, of Johns Island, S.C.; his granddaughter, Beth Linn, of Charlotte, N.C.; two great-grandchildren, Abby and Jackson, and several nieces and nephews. He was the son of the late Jacob and Ida Ziner of Malden, MA.

The family wishes to thank the staff of Langdon Place of Nashua senior living community, where Mr. and Mrs. Ziner received excellent care in their final years.

SERVICES: A private service will be held at a future date. Donations may be sent to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America at https://alzfdn.org, or the American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org. The DAVIS FUNERAL HOME, One Lock St., Nashua has been placed in charge of arrangements. An online guest book is available at www.davisfuneralhomenh.com, (603-883-3401) “ONE MEMORY LIGHTS ANOTHER.”