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 February, 2011
By coincidence, Dr. Hal Kushner, a former Vietnam POW, is a friend of Dr. Woody Hunt, the 2011 Commodore of San Diego Yacht Club. I’ve always felt a special kinship with Woody, knowing that his pre-ophthalmologist days in San Diego were in the Navy during the Vietnam War as a flight surgeon–sometimes flying backseat in F4s–the aircraft that my first husband, Capt Jerry Zimmer, USMC, flew in Vietnam before he was shot down and declared MIA.
Thinking Woody would be interested in Dr. Kushner’s story, my husband, Ron, emailed him the following copy, along with a few other former military doctors. In the small-world category, Woody told Ron that he has known Dr. Kushner for many years and that he practices ophthalmology in Daytona Beach, FL –Woody’s old hometown. Although Woody was in the Navy, he knew that his friend was also a flight surgeon in the Army but nothing of Dr. Kushner’s horrific experiences as a POW. I think anyone who reads Dr. Kuchner’s story will agree with Woody: “His is an incredible story of survival, fidelity and humility which he kept largely to himself. I am proud to know him.” Read more
Almost four decades after the Vietnam War ended, we’re still trying to work with the Russians to learn about our MIAs left behind in Vietnam and other past wars. In 1992, the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission (USRJC) on POW/MIA affairs was established, providing an exchange of vital information about MIAs for both sides. Hope was at an all-time high with heavy-hitter U.S-Russian participants eager to engage. But the commission’s track record has not lived up to expectations, and the future does not look promising.
For the U.S., we knew the commission offered a pathway to access of Russian military archives. For Vietnam-era families this group was a godsend, since most military history buffs agree that the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) would never have succeeded in controlling the country had it not been for the Russians. Aside from providing training, planes, missiles—and a lot more—Russia is believed to have documented every aspect of the air war over North Vietnam, consisting of information about aircraft/pilots that were shot down, killed or captured and occasionally imprisoned in Russia. In the bigger picture, access to Russian military archives is vitally important to determining the fate of thousands of Americans from World War II through the end of the Cold War. Read more