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 February, 2015
Searching for the remains of my first husband, Capt. Jerry Zimmer, USMC – an F4B jet pilot, shot down in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, August 29, 1969, along with his navigator, 1st Lt. Al Graf, has given me greater appreciation for the challenges associated with this very complicated pursuit.
WHERE TO NEXT?
In August 2014, I learned that two-thirds of Jerry’s and Al’s crash site had been excavated to completion and that anthropologists with the recently deactivated Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), now integrated into the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), had closed that portion of the site with no remains found to date. However all is not hopeless, officials may now survey the last third part of the site, if recently found evidence indicates that remains may be in that area.
Recovered life support equipment, considered important to the future direction of Jerry’s case, was sent in September 2014 to the Life Science Equipment Laboratory (LSEL) at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio, for analysis.
TURNING POINT IN THE CASE?
Among the pieces of evidence sent to John Goines, Chief of the LSEL, were boot fragments. This seemingly innocuous evidence formed the basis of what turned out to be an important find. The fragments were from two different types of boots — one a flight boot and the other a jungle boot. Combined with other evidence/data, Goines was able to confirm that two people were in the cockpit at the time of impact.
On a personal level, I can honestly say it helps to be reminded that the incident happened quickly and that Jerry and Al did not have time to suffer. Maybe the boot evidence and other life support equipment will lead to a turning point in the case.
I feel upbeat for the first time in a long time, and I think you’ll understand if you have time to read the full story.