Our Mission:Jerry was an F4 Phantom 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 because of the altitude and trajectory of the aircraft. They were initially 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 – regardless of their original classification.
Although Jerry has been gone for four decades, our family learned that his remains might be recoverable, so we are doing everything possible to work with JPAC to make this happen and bring Jerry home to the United States where he belongs.
Posts Tagged ‘LtC Todd Emoto’
I want to thank the Mt. Soledad Memorial Ass. for inviting me to attend their 2014 Veterans Day celebration in honor of our POWs and MIAs from all past wars. It was heartwarming sitting among our POWs; I could not help thinking about the hardships they endured while serving our country. Yet, their patriotism still remains steadfast, as does their support for the return of our MIAs. For those present, especially the younger generation, I am certain it was an event that will not be forgotten.
Nov 9, 2014
U-T San Diego
By LORI WEISBURG
POW’S, MISSING IN ACTION REMEMBERED
LA JOLLA — Ask Richard Mullen about the harrowing six years he spent as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict and he’ll politely decline to reveal anything but the vaguest of details.
“I was taken to Hoa Lo — we nicknamed it the Hanoi Hilton — and I was severely beaten by the North Vietnamese,” he says almost matter-of-factly. He was 36 at the time, when the F-8 Crusader he was piloting for the U.S. Navy was shot down and he was forced to eject, landing him in a rice paddy.
Now 83, Mullen, who lives in La Jolla, said he still has residual pain from the physical abuse his captors inflicted on him.
“Your wrists are in manacles, with old fashioned screws to tighten them, and there were ropes that cut off the circulation on your arms, but I really don’t want to get into that,” he said. “It was very extreme and inhumane.”
Mullen was among some 20 POWs honored Saturday during a noon ceremony sponsored by the Mount Soledad Memorial Association, which also recognized the local families of those still missing in action.
While the association regularly holds special ceremonies each year to honor local veterans, Saturday’s event was the first specifically dedicated to POWs and those who had been declared missing in action, said association president Bruce Bailey.
The ceremony, with the towering Soledad cross and curved walls of more than 3,000 black granite veteran plaques forming the backdrop, brought together service members from multiple wars and their family members on a sunny, unseasonably warm afternoon.
The Marine Corps Recruit Depot brass quintet performed, “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” were sung, and a moving flyover by the T-34 Team of pilots, in the “missing man” formation, arrived from the west. A replica of a recently installed plaque honoring the prisoners of war and the families of missing in action from World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam was also unveiled.
While paying tribute to the POWs and the “isolation and deprivation” they suffered, keynote speaker Capt. Dan’l Steward also recognized the family members in attendance.
“Behind every better man and every better woman stands family,” said Steward, a former Navy SEAL and now Special Operations Subject Matter Expert to the Office of Naval Research. “Without family support, our servicemen and women would not be able, or frankly, as willing to sacrifice for the greater good. You, the families are part of the unique fabric that embodies the American willingness to fight and preserve the freedoms we have inherited and cherish.”
Elaine Zimmer Davis was the young mother of a 2-year-old son in 1969 when she learned that her husband’s F-4 Phantom had crashed while on a bombing mission to clear dense jungle in South Vietnam. Initially designated as “killed in action,” Jerry Zimmer later was reclassified as missing in action. During the last decade, Davis, long since remarried, has traveled several times to South Vietnam and visited the original crash site in hopes of “bringing Jerry home,” as she has named her blog dedicated to that quest.
For years, she said she sought to block out the memories of what happened to her late husband but more recently held out hope of possibly recovering his remains. It doesn’t appear, though, that will happen now, she said.
“We’re close to the end game here. It’s not looking really good,” said Davis, who attended the Mount Soledad ceremony. “You have to keep at it, you can’t give up. I won’t give up on helping others finding their loved ones, but if they tell me, ‘Elaine, we can’t find anything,’ I’ll be grateful they tried.”
Mullen, like many other Vietnam-era prisoners of war, relied on his religious faith and a special tap code the men all had learned in order to communicate with one another. He returned home in the spring of 1973 as part of “Operation Homecoming,” as did U.S. Navy Capt. Ernest Moore, who Mullen said was the senior commanding officer on his flight out of Hanoi.
Moore, a speaker on Saturday, reminded those attending that there are still some 1,600 Americans from the Vietnam War who are unaccounted for.
“I can only offer you to believe as I believe,” he said, “that they rest in peace and that you will some day be joined once again with them.”
For the past several years, DPMO has produced a special poster for National POW/MIA Recognition Day. These posters are poignant reminders of our continued respect for those service members who paid the ultimate price on behalf of our country and that the mission to bring home their remains will never end. The 2014 poster is one of my favorites.
National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed annually on the third Friday of September in honor of the brave men and women of the armed services, who are still missing from past wars — namely, WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam War and the Cold War. Each are officially listed as POW/MIA, and this special day is one in which the US Government renews its commitment to do everything possible to bring them home to their families and to the country for which they made the ultimate sacrifice. The 2014 event falls on the 19th this year and is traditionally observed at government installations, including the Capitol and White House, along with multiple locations where active duty military, veterans, families and other patriotic Americans gather to remember these special heroes.
Although formal observances may differ, many will include the very recognizable POW/MIA flag flying below the American flag. This black flag made its debut after the Vietnam War, and its presence continues to move Americans, who now know what it signifies and that it has come to represent all POW/MIA service members from past wars. In more recent years the Department of Defense began producing a unique poster, specifically for POW/MIA Recognition day. They are true works of art that always send a powerful message, and the 2014 poster is no exception, as noted above. The inscription on the poster says it best: “Missing … Seeking Answers.”
Many families with loved ones still missing would give anything to turn back the clock and be given just one do-over. But we all know that do-overs are trendy ways of saying second chances, and our plight is not a game but rather a dream that the remains of our husbands, fathers, sons and brothers will be found one day, and allow us to close the circle.
As the Department of Defense prepares to debut a new agency that will try to speed up global recovery efforts of our MIAs, I wish them success and hope all MIA families and veterans will help make it work. There will be opportunities for many of us to become partners in this very complex effort. With the threat of terrorism looming large and the drawdown of military troops leaving us with fewer service members than post-WWII, please make National POW/MIA Recognition Day more than an annual observance — let’s pledge to help the DoD get the job done.