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 April, 2015
Row 1: (L-R) Ed Garr in the black shirt and John Powell in the white, served as MHT tour leaders for this August 2013 group. I was in Da Nang, where they had a stopover, and Ed invited me to join the group for dinner. Although we had communicated by email, it was our first face-to-face meeting, and we liked each other immediately.
It is so difficult to lose someone you care about, and Ed Garr is one of those who left behind a lot of people who cared about him, and I was one of them. I met Ed in recent years, and we stayed in touch by email – his were the one-liner type, asking me how Jerry’s case was going and when I was returning to Vietnam. I always laughed, but when I eventually met Ed in person – in Vietnam, of course – I realized that his emails were classic Ed. But even more important, I soon learned that Ed was a one-off, an endearing trait in my books.
Ed passed away, April 19, 2015, after suffering a stroke in March while traveling in Vietnam. He spent his final days in Ocala, Florida, where he and his wife, Ora Lee, lived for decades and raised a large family. Married 62 years, Ora Lee was the love of Ed’s life, and their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren never ventured too far away from where the family’s patriarch and matriarch began their dynasty six decades earlier.
Known as Capt. Ed Garr, 82, an enlisted Marine, who received a battlefield commission along the way, Ed served in Korea under the command of Chesty Puller and later served two tours in Vietnam. Ed was part of the now infamous Starlite Operation and eventually carved out a well-suited MOS in the security field with the Military Police.
After his retirement, Ed worked in a couple of different capacities, but eventually returned to his roots in a manner of speaking, serving as a tour guide for Military Historical Tours (MHT). With approximately 125 tours to Vietnam under his belt, Ed developed an expertise in all things related to Vietnam.
And although Ed had enough anecdotes that he could keep a crowd anchored in place, his style was to let the veterans talk about their experiences while touring in country. Ed understood that some wanted to revisit a country in transition, while others were hoping to make their own transition, as in finally seeking closure, and Ed was there to help on both accounts. Capt Ed Garr will be missed!
For an insider’s look at Ed’s world as a tour guide, please feel free to click on In The Footsteps of Heroes in which I focus on a few MHT tours, led by Ed and LTC John Powell, US Army, (ret).
Garr often tried to assist veterans who were looking for their long-lost buddies in Vietnam, classified as MIAs. This image depicts Ed communicating with a local villager in the Tiger Mtn area of the A Shau Valley. He was hoping to gather information that would assist LtC Mike Sprayberry, USA, (ret), with his efforts to bring home six soldiers, who were listed as KIA/NBR, as a result of a battle, April 25, 1968, for which Sprayberry earned the coveted Medal of Honor. Sprayberry led a daring, successful nighttime rescue of soldiers from his unit, pinned down by the North Vietnamese. Unable to extract the KIAs, Sprayberry has spent several years, trying to finish the mission of bringing home the remains of those who didn’t make it 47 years ago. This Memorial Day, Filmmaker Norman Lloyd’s documentary about the search, The MIAs on Tiger Mountain, has been selected to be in the G.I. Film Festival in Washington DC. The Sprayberrys are hoping that the film will recognize Lloyd for his efforts and bring greater awareness of the Sprayberry’s efforts to find the six MIAs on Tiger Mountain.
Please visit http://giff15.com/movies/the-mias-on-tiger-mountain/ to see a short preview of the movie and hopefully cast your vote in support of it.