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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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. Preview of the 2016 League & DPAA Meeting
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
46th Annual League Meeting in D.C. for Families of POW/MIAs from the Vietnam War, June 24 – 27, 2015
THE 46TH ANNUAL MEETING*
NATIONAL LEAGUE OF FAMILIES
OF AMERICAN PRISONERS AND MISSING
IN SOUTHEAST ASIA
JUNE 24 – 27, 2015
HILTON CRYSTAL CITY HOTEL**
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
The annual League meeting has been a must-attend event for more than four decades, and 2015 will be no exception. In fact, this year’s meeting is more important than ever for Vietnam War families with loved ones still unaccounted-for in Southeast Asia.
There is strength in numbers, and our attendance will not only demonstrate the League’s strength, but it will also send a message to the newly formed Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) that families support their efforts, and we are eager to hear DPAA tell us they are committed to ours.
IT TAKES A COMMUNITY
The meeting is expected to include some new faces and hopefully a number of returnees that have stood by us through the good and bad times. I continue to learn more from these annual meetings than I ever thought possible – in essence, they are the closest connection that families have, as a whole, to a transparent environment within the accounting community – largely because of League Chairman Ann Mills Griffiths, who has been the League’s guiding force for nearly four decades.
The League supports families in numerous ways, but neither Ann nor other members of the board and key advocates in veteran and political circles can do it all. Family members are the lifeblood of the mission to bring home our loved ones.
If you have created MIA business cards, bring a bunch — remember DPAA is newly formed. I recommend that cards include your loved one’s name, rank, branch of service, official date of death and, if desired, a thumbnail image of him — don’t forget to include your name and email address. For security reasons, I don’t encourage including home address or telephone numbers. If your cards are one-sided, you can use the blank side (if requested) to hand-write personal contact information. My cards are one-sided and very simple with Jerry’s name, rank, branch of service, my name and URL for this site.
Even if a family member has five minutes for a face-to-face with an official at some point during the meeting, he or she will appreciate receiving a business card from you and hopefully that person will reciprocate with a card, as well. (If you had a noteworthy conversation, jot down something on the back of their card, as a memory jogger).
*MEETING REGISTRATION MUST BE POSTMARKED BY FRIDAY, JUNE 12, 2015
**TO RECEIVE A SPECIAL RATE FROM HILTON CRYSTAL CITY HOTEL,
THE CUT OFF DATE IS MAY 22, 2015