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Veteran Pat Zlateff served 27 years


Pat Zlateff and wife, Sara, during the Isle of Flags Memorial Day service. - file photo

Pat Zlateff is anything but your typical veteran.

Most local people will remember him as owner of Riverview Lanes, where he and his wife, Sara, kept the bowling alley in Coulee Dam open because the couple thought local people deserved a place to go for fun and enjoyment.

Pat graduated from Coulee Dam High School back in 1964, having spent two years at Grand Coulee High School and finishing up at Coulee Dam.

Then Pat got in some time at Eastern Washington University and played as a running back in a top brand of football even back then. As a senior, his EWU team played in the national championship for its classification, losing by seven points.

Pat was headed to the NFL. That is, until Uncle Sam got in the way.

He has a lot of stories to tell, but the one about his final exit from Vietnam ranks right up there at the top.

While he admits he wasn't there all that long, about five months, he's happy that a North Vietnamese officer found his name on a clipboard and that ,soon after, Pat was airborne.

"I was on one of the last five planes to leave Vietnam," he said.

This was about the same time as helicopters were taking people off the U.S. embassy roof in the final days and hours of the war.

Pat spent 27 years in the active military and reserves, and his wife, Sara, 24 years. He likes to say that, between the two of them, they have 66 years in law enforcement, primarily in the military police.

The couple met in the military, and Sara worked for Pat. He was an officer; she was a first sergeant.

There was a standing rule in the military that officers didn't run around with non-commissioned officers. At one point Pat made Sara his driver so they could be together without the Army knowing that they were a couple.

But it all turned out well. No one reported that the two were dating each other, or at least no one did anything about it.

Pat spent three years in Germany, some time in Korea and in more duty bases than even he would care to remember.

Pat started as a second lieutenant in ROTC at EWU and ended his career a light colonel in the U.S. Army.

All of that was in law enforcement.

Both Zlateffs are among many other local veterans featured in a special section in today's Star newspaper. Look at all the pictures of local veterans and see how many you can recognize.

Wednesday is Veterans Day, a good day to thank the veterans for their service to our country.

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