Howland boys meet President, First Lady

By RAYMOND L. SMITH

Howland Community News

HOWLAND — Boy Scouts Alexander and Henry Zwetzig will have special “What I did during my summer vacation” stories to tell classmates when school begins.

The boys were the only two children on the tarmac when Air Force One landed at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station July 25 and were able to talk to President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, as well as meeting Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke. The president was on his way to a rally in downtown Youngstown.

In addition to a few family photos that document the day, the boys also have official Department of Interior coins given to them by Zinke and a signed passport book.

“Air Force One was massive,” Henry, 7, said.

“It had four engines,” Alexander 11, added.

The boys described Secret Service personnel on the ground before Air Force One landed and more came out of the plane before the President and First Lady came out with their entourage.

“It was scary and exiting,” Alexander said.

When the president came out, the boys, and their parents, Lt. Col. Christopher and Dawn Zwetzig, saluted.

“The president talked to everyone,” Alexander said.

When told the president’s schedule was about 20 minute behind, Henry jumped to his defense.

“He’s the president,” Henry said. “He can do what he wants.”

Both boys described President Trump as “awesome.”

In talking to Zinke, they learned he had been a member of Navy’s Seal Team Six.

When Zinke shook their hands, he placed Department of Interior coins in each of their hands.

“We were not expecting this,” Alexander said. “It was a surprise.”

Their father, Christopher, is a Lt. Colonel with the 910th Airlift Wing. He works as its safety officer and is a navigator. Christopher has been in the Air Force and the Air Force Reserves for 27 years.

On Tuesday, Lt. Col. Zwetzig was asked whether he wanted to greet the presidential party.

“Naturally, I said yes, but asked if I could bring my family,” Zwetzig said. “I thought this would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Zwetzig never thought they would get close enough to meet the President and First Lady, let alone talk to them.

“He (President Trump) asked if I was the boys’ father,” Zwetzig said

He described pausing for a moment, before saying yes.

“He (President Trump) said I am a lucky man,” he said. “I was awestruck. This was the highlight of my military career.”

Zwetzig expects to retire at the end of the year.

rsmith@tribtoday.com

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