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.
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Archive for March, 2011
Several families with MIAs still unaccounted for since the Vietnam War, including my husband, Capt Jerry Zimmer, USMC, are expecting the Department of Defense (DoD) to sign a waiver soon that will allow team members with the Joint Prisoner of War, Mission in Action Accounting Command (JPAC) to fly by helicopter to inaccessible locations in Vietnam and Laos to conduct MIA field operations. Without a waiver, it is unlikely that JPAC will be able to access many—if not most– of the sites on the waiting list for investigations and excavations. In some ways, our family is luckier than most, because Jerry’s site is moderately difficult to access. It is common knowledge within the MIA community that the low-hanging fruit has been picked from the Vietnam War, and now recoveries involve sites that are logistically difficult to access because of the tough mountainous terrain, thick canopy and harsh weather conditions in Vietnam and Laos.
In February, Adm Robert Willard, who heads the Pacific Command (PACOM), signed a waiver renewing contract helicopter service for transporting cargo to support field operations in Vietnam and Laos – not a waiver for team transport, as originally thought. The cargo transport waiver was first issued approximately a year ago, so it was time for annual renewal or cancellation. Read more