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.
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League Chairman Anne Mills Griffiths and DPAA Director Michael Linnington kicked off the 2015 National League Meeting of POW/MIA Families. The meeting attracted one of the largest groups in recent years, and the atmosphere was upbeat throughout the three-day event.
DEFENSE POW/MIA ACCOUNTING AGENCY IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Families with MIAs still unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War met in D.C., June 24-27, 2015, for the 46th annual League meeting. With the recent reorganization nearly complete, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) got down to business and, by all accounts, did an excellent job. In no small way, credit goes to League Chairman Ann Mills Griffiths and DPAA Director Michael Linnington, both of whom were front and center daily, from early morning to evening.
Mills-Griffiths, the heart and soul of the League, chaired the meeting that drew approximately 300-plus family members and officials. The annual dinner attracted several special guests of families, along with many from military, government and diplomatic circles.
The crux of the meeting each year is informational with DPAA subject-matter experts delivering presentations, serving on informational panels and participating in Q&A sessions. Questions are not submitted in advance, and the only no-no is that they are not about individual cases. Otherwise, family members direct their questions to specific participants.
In the line of fire, leadership and staff delivered thought-provoking responses that frequently generated input from multiple experts. The Q&A session is my favorite. It is truly an opportunity to learn more about the accounting system, and this year’s session was exceptionally good.
A partial list of participants, who traveled from overseas, included Ron Ward, Casualty Resolution Specialist, Det 2, Hanoi; LTC Marcus Ferrara, USA, Chief, Detachment 3, Laos; Pete Laverde, Stony Beach Specialist, DIA, Cambodia; Jared Elison, Stony Beach Specialist, DIA, Thailand, and many others.
PLEASE CLICK FOR CONTINUATION:2015 LEAGUE MEETING WITH FAMILIES OF VIETNAM WAR MIAs
On June 19, 2015, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter selected Army LTG Michael Linnington, (Ret), for the position as Director of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). The newly formed agency is now responsible for investigations, searches, recoveries, identifications and repatriations of service members and personnel classified as POW/MIA, primarily from WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War and others as designated.
DPAAs soft roll out came in January 2015, with the consolidation of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) and the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO). JPACs former Commander, Maj Gen Kelly McKeague, USAF, assumed the interim position as Deputy Commander of DPAA, under Interim Commander Rear Adm Michael Franken, USN, who has moved on to become Deputy Commander for Military Operations at U.S. Africa Command.
It is my understanding that McKeague is currently serving as Deputy Director of DPAA; however, it is unknown if he will serve a tour of duty in that position now that the agency has a director in place. In my opinion, McKeague would be extremely helpful, dealing with the complexities of global field operations at this point in time.
The Linnington announcement comes less than a week before families with loved ones still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War will be attending their annual League meeting in Washington, D.C. at which time DPAA will concurrently present a briefing to the group. (MIA families from WWII and Korea will meet in August for a similar briefing).
Now that Linnington has been selected, it is likely that he will attend the two briefings — even if able to make only a brief appearance at each. Families at the League meeting will be eager to meet him and to be reassured of his commitment to do everything possible to bring home MIAs from the Vietnam War and to quell any fears to the contrary (see update below).
A native of Cape May, N.J., Linnington is a 1980 graduate of West Point, at which time he was commissioned as an infantry officer. Later, the General received his MS in Applied Mathematics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., along with a Masters Degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College in Washington, D.C.
Having served in key command and staff positions during his 33 years of Army service, Linnington has accrued many domestic and international tours of duty. From 2002 to 2004 he took command of the 3d Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 101st Airborne Div (AASLT), both in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in Iraq.
Comfortable in the D.C. arena, Linnington has served multiple tours there, and in July 2013 assumed duties as Military Deputy to the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness). The General is not new to the accounting community, having served as an advisor to Franken and McKeague since the inception of DPAA, which places him in a much better position than someone coming into a start-up agency of sorts with no prior knowledge of the system.
According to recent press coverage, the Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer was tasked with assisting DPAA during the transition period with a workplace assessment to develop performance measures and a new organizational structure. It is likely that Linnington will place priority on reviewing all the recommendations compiled by the various work groups, especially as they relate to personnel. The agency is still in the growth mode.
Insiders say the competition for the job was tough and attracted a lot of high level candidates. From what I can tell, Linnington appears to be an excellent choice. I wish him the best.
UPDATE — June 30, 2015
Aside from Linnington’s topnotch military credentials, his recent retirement from the Army made him eligible to fulfill the civilian requirement to serve as Director of DPAA.
Discussing his new job at the recent meeting in D.C. with the National League of POW/MIA Families, Linnington told attendees that he intended to stay in the position for 10 years. The families expressed their overwhelming approval after having seen a number of changes in recent years and, consequently, hoped the permanent position would be filled by someone like Linnington.