My first husband, Capt. Jerry Zimmer, was an F4B Phantom jet pilot, whose aircraft was shot down on August 29, 1969, approximately 20 miles South of Da Nang, Vietnam, after six months in country. Neither Jerry nor his navigator, 1st Lt. Al Graf, was able to eject, before the aircraft crashed into the Que Son Mountains. Initially Jerry and Al were classified as Killed in Action/No Body Recovered (KIA/NBR). Years later, both Marines were listed as MIA, along with other service members whose bodies were never recovered.
Jerry has been gone nearly a half century, and hope for recovering his remains had run out a long time ago. However, in recent years our family became involved with the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), now merged with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), and learned that Jerry’s and Al’s remains might, in fact, be recoverable, so we are doing everything possible to support their efforts to make this happen and bring our guys home where they belong.
NOTE: BLOG POSTS ARE NOT UPDATED, SO INFORMATION MAY HAVE CHANGED OVER TIME.
Archive for June, 2010
My article in the July 2010 issue of Leatherneck, which is posted in the blog, presented the facts about concerns for JPACs future efforts in Vietnam to recover, identify and repatriate MIA remains .
This blog will offer some personal opinions about the issues that I think need to be resolved so that JPAC and its Vietnamese counterpart can continue to do the job of returning our loved ones to their families in the United States of America.
The Vietnamese government monitors publications and other communications that deal with matters of concern to them, such as the MIA issue. In spite of the hurt that lingers for most American families with MIAs in Vietnam, I will continue to treat the Vietnamese with respect, as I always have, and hope that they will do likewise with all of us. Read more
NUMBER CRUNCHING COULD HURT MIA RECOVERY EFFORTS IN VIETNAM
–By Elaine Zimmer Davis
Turf battles are nothing new, but when it comes to repatriating the remains of America’s MIAs, no one—government officials, veteran organizations or affected families—wants to favor one war over another. And while the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2010 embraces the MIA issue, it may inadvertently have done just that.
How to deal with MIAs from the Vietnam War is posing a dilemma. At issue is a mandate in the NDAA pertaining to “Missing or Deceased Persons” in military or defense-related positions, dating back to World War II. The mandate stipulates, “Beginning with fiscal year 2015, the POW/MIA accounting community has sufficient resources to ensure that at least 200 missing persons are accounted for under the program annually.” In short, the Joint Prisoner of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC), headquartered in Hawaii, must increase its identification numbers to meet the quota.
In FY 2009, JPAC made 98 identifications, with 26 individuals from the Korean War, 19 from the Vietnam War and 53 from WWII. Ironically, WWII, which began in 1941, produced the most results, while the Vietnam War, nearly two decades later, lagged far behind. During a recent excavation outside of Saigon, JPAC’s Lieutenant Colonel Todd Emoto, United States Army, Commander of Detachment 2 in Hanoi, discussed the challenges facing the organization in Vietnam.
“Remains are degrading at an alarming rate due to the acidity of soil, climate and other post-depositional processes, in comparison to other parts of the world,” said LTC Emoto. “The quantity of the remains that we find in Southeast Asia is normally small in comparison to other areas in which JPAC operates. Many times, a single tooth or a small bone fragment will allow JPAC to identify a missing American here.” Read more