Former star baseball player killed in Iraq

Associated Press

HOUSTON — A 2003 Alief Elsik High School graduate who died earlier this week in Iraq was a talented baseball player at the school.

Lance Cpl. Thomas J. Zapp, 20, died Monday in Iraq’s Anbar province, the Department of Defense said Wednesday.

Thomas F. Zapp said that his son, who had been a Marine since June 2003, had been in Iraq about six or seven weeks. Zapp said that while his son was apprehensive about going to Iraq, he believed in doing his duty.

“He just wanted to do what was right. To do his part as a Marine and be a good person,” Zapp said Wednesday at his Richmond-area home.

Zapp told the Houston Chronicle for its Thursday editions that his son was riding in a convoy when he was killed by an improvised explosive device.

Zapp last spoke with his son a little more than two weeks ago. “He said it was kind of rough, but everything was positive, the morale was good.”

Thomas J. Zapp, a pitcher and third baseman for Elsik’s baseball team, was described in a Houston Chronicle sports report as “the Rams’ No. 1 hurler.”

Robert Copley, Elsik’s baseball coach, said Zapp was equally talented as a third baseman and batter. He said Zapp quit the team his senior year when Marine Corps functions interfered with his game schedule.

“He decided to join the Marines and he kind of put baseball on the back burner,” Copley said. “He could’ve gone on to play in college. He was a great kid.”

Zapp was assigned to Combat Service Battalion 1, Combat Service Support Group 11, 1st Force Service Support Group, at Camp Pendleton, Calif.