Zamka was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps following graduation from the United States Naval Academy in May 1984. He graduated from the Marine Corps Basic School in December 1984. Upon completion of Naval Aviator training he reported to Navy Attack Squadron VA-128 for initial A-6 training in August of 1987. He then reported to Marine All Weather Attack Squadron VMA(AW)-242 in El Toro, California. While assigned to VMA(AW)-242, Zamka made an overseas deployment to Japan, Korea, and the Philippines. He attended the Marine Aviation Warfare and Tactics Instructor Course and was assigned as the Squadron Weapons and Tactics Instructor. In 1990, he was selected for and completed F/A-18 conversion training and was assigned to Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron VMFA(AW)-121, also in El Toro, California. He flew the F/A-18D Night Attack Hornet during overseas deployments to Japan, Korea, Singapore, and Southwest Asia. Zamka flew 66 combat missions over occupied Kuwait and Iraq during Desert Storm. In 1993 he served as a forward air controller with First Battalion, Fifth Marines in Camp Pendleton, California and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) aboard USS Belleau Wood in the Western Pacific. He was selected to attend the United States Air Force Test Pilot School class 94A and graduated in December 1994. Zamka was then assigned as an F/A-18 test pilot/project officer and the F/A-18 Operations Officer for the Naval Strike Aircraft Test Squadron (NSATS). While assigned to NSATS, Zamka flew a wide variety of tests in the F/A-18 Hornet to include high angle of attack, loads, flutter, and weapon system programs. Major Zamka returned to VMFA(AW)-121 in 1998 and was serving as the Aircraft Maintenance Officer, deployed to Iwakuni, Japan when selected for the astronaut program.
He has logged over 2700 flight hours in more than 30 different aircraft.