WWII vet, son honored in dual ceremony
Niagara Gazette — A World War II veteran was honored posthumously this week, while his son, a former Niagara County Sheriff’s deputy who was shot in the line of duty, was also recognized.
Rep. Brian Higgins presented the family of U.S. Army veteran Simon Zulia with a Bronze Star and additional military recognitions at the American Legion Post in North Tonawanda for his exemplary service in two of the war’s renowned military campaigns in the European regions of Rhineland and Ardennes.
“Simon Zulia demonstrated great courage and commitment as a member of the United States Army and it is our honor to pay tribute and express gratitude for the contributions he made to this great nation,” Higgins said. “Simon’s love for his country was matched only by his love for his family and the medals they are receiving today will stand as a lasting legacy of this patriarch’s noble character.”
Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour also awarded the Police Combat Cross medal to Simon’s son, Steve Zulia, who was ambushed in 1987 while answering a domestic call in Middleport and shot in the face and upper body. The medal is given to public safety officers who have successfully and intelligently performed an act of extraordinary heroism, while engaged in personal combat with an armed adversary under circumstances of imminent personal hazard to life.
The elder Zulia was born in 1925 in Lockport and attended high school there before entering the Army in 1944. Known as “Slim,” he served as a combat infantry unit before driving trucks carrying supplies, finishing his duty in 1946. Two of his brothers also served.
Zulia was married to his wife Evelyn for 44 years, and worked in Lockport at Harrison Radiator. He passed away in 1995. The medal, one of the highest for acts of merit, was presented Monday to his widow and four children. Higgins also presented the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 3 bronze service stars, the World War II Victory Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge First Award and Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII.
After being shot and going through several rounds of surgery, Steve Zulia, of North Tonawanda, obtained a master’s degree from Buffalo State College and continued his doctoral work at Albany State. He currently works as a professor at Niagara University, teaching criminal justice.
“Steven Zulia was drawn into his own combat zone,” Voutour said. “But time and distance did not write different scripts for them. They were both wounded. They both moved on to prominence in new roles. Both have made a difference in other people’s lives.”