In Loving Memory – Pete Zakutansky
1921 - 2010
IN LOVING MEMORY OF SGT. PETER ZAKUTANSKY
WWII US ARMY PIGEONEER
In loving memory of the late Sgt. Peter Zakutansky, WWII US Army Pigeoneer, Night Flying Record holder. Pete died on Monday, March 1, 2010 at the age of 88.
Pete was born on March 18, 1921 in Old Road, Elizabeth, New Jersey. His love affair with the homing pigeons began at an early age. At 10 years of age, he started his own loft. At 12 years of age, he began training pigeons to fly at night. Soon thereafter, he learned and proved that his pigeons would fly both during the night and the day. He raced his pigeons with the Greater Elizabeth Racing Pigeon Club, winning many long and short distance races.
Pete enlisted in the US Army in 1942 and served as an armed guard in the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., for the Office of Secret Mail. He was trained to fire 155 howitzers and a 30 caliber 4-man machine gunner. After describing his "night and day" flying training methods with Major Mc Clure at the Pentagon, Pete was promoted to the rank of sergeant with the 285th Signal Corps along with a special assignment to train pigeons for night flying at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. After basic training at Fort Bragg, he was given his own jeep, a helper and his own location for the night loft. The night loft was located on top of a hill, a quarter of a mile away from the main pigeon section. Pete increased pigeon night flight ranges from the previous maximum of 55 miles to 163 miles. His Army Pigeons, broke the night flying record by an incredible distance of 108 miles. To this day, 68 years later, Sgt. Zakutansky still holds the Night Flying Record.
In 1943, Pete was sent to England with a six-man detachment and oversaw "pigeon communications" between three airbases in Exeter, England. Their detachment was attached to the 9th Air Force Paratroop Carriers. C-47s were used for the missions. 17 paratroopers would eject from the plane, and Pete would wrap the ripcords around his hand, lean out the door and release the pigeon. He personally flew on 15 missions, with the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions on C-47s during maneuvers to release his pigeons. He was then transferred to a pigeon training area in Andover, England where they raised young pigeons and trained them to a mobile loft, P.G. 68, a 30 bird loft on a trailer.
Pete was a very dear friend and will be greatly missed. He was kind, generous and a man of integrity. He loved to talk about his theory on pigeons, the war years, his family, and especially his beloved Mom.
Pete always used to say, "I'll see ya."
The late Sgt. Peter Zakutansky is co-starring in The Pigeoneers II with Lt. Col. Robert S. De Adder. The film was shot on location at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey and will be released in 2010.
Tribute and Photo Courtesy of Al Croseri