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.
Posts Tagged ‘Ron Ward’
MARINES OF BASIC SCHOOL 1-67, B COMPANY
50th Anniversary Reunion
THE RIGHT STUFF
To those who think patriotism is dead in America, my advice is to hang out with a group of Vietnam War veterans. Not long ago, I had the opportunity of practicing what I preach. It was refreshing to be among a special gathering of Marine officers, who some would say have every right to question love of country, having served in a very unpopular war. Instead, reflecting on their Marine Corps commitment that officially began in Basic School, five decades earlier, most attribute their TBS experience as giving them an appreciation of service to country, pride of being a Marine and gratitude for the opportunities they received in return.
In September, 2016, I received a call from an old friend, Mike Wholley, BGen, USMC (Ret), inviting me to attend the 50th Anniversary Reunion of The Basic School, Class of 1-67, Company B, of which Mike and my first husband, Capt Jerry Zimmer, were members and served in the same platoon – Bravo Company, 4th Platoon, to be exact. Of course, I’d like to brag that the 4th was the best, but to be honest, platoon selection was/is based strictly on the alphabet – hence Wholley and Zimmer along with approximately 25 others were last, but not least, of 2nd Lieutenants assigned a platoon in B Company.
The notion that all kids in the 1960s were part of the hippie counter culture movement was not accurate, nor did it apply to the path taken by 185 Bravo Company Marines. These Marines heeded the call to serve, with nearly half of the class having earned coveted NROTC scholarships to Ivy League Schools and other top-rated institutions that might otherwise have been financially out-of-reach.
I was curious, as a writer and Jerry’s former wife, to learn more about the Marines of B Company. Thanks to the efforts of Andy Vaart, Capt, USNR (Ret); Bob Lange, Col, USMC (Ret); and Phil Norton, Capt, USMC (Ret), a collection of bios was received from most members of B Company, and Andy subsequently sent me a PDF of the soon-to-be published book, entitled “The Marines of Bravo Company, TBS, 1-67, 1966-2016.” The book will be a wonderful keepsake of the 50th Anniversary for guys who served in B Company. Undoubtedly the book will also find its way around the Marine Corps veterans’ circuit — and like the guys of Bravo Company, many will relate to the realization of when Basic School ended and training in an MOS began, a lot of the them never knew what route their Marine brothers took, especially career-wise, and I guarantee that is what makes “The Marines of Bravo Company….” a great read.
Please join our family as we pledge to help make 2016 a year of consensus among those involved in the pursuit of accounting for our MIAs from the Vietnam War. We still have hope that Jerry’s and Al’s remains will be found one day soon. Like so many other families, we are grateful to have the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) and others involved in the mission during these very difficult times. We are honored by the many MIA supporters following our journey — knowing that our loved ones are not forgotten means a lot.
My New Year’s Resolution is to post more stories in 2016! I have a good Vietnam-era war story planned for the near future, but as always, I am humbled by the task and hope I can do it justice.
DPAA is committed to continuing efforts on behalf of our Vietnam War MIAs with no reduction in field operations planned this year. A little more than six months since it went operational, the agency under DPAA Director Michael Linnington’s leadership is full speed ahead. Maj Gen Kelly McKeague, who served as DPAA’s Interim Deputy Director during the transition period, was succeeded on Sept. 22, 2015, by Brig Gen Mark Spindler, USA.
DPAA Deputy Director Mark Spindler, USA
We welcome DPAA Deputy Director Spindler and look forward to supporting his efforts, of which include global analysis and investigations, search and recoveries and laboratory operations to identify unaccounted-for Americans from past conflicts. Prior to joining DPAAs leadership team, Spindler served as the 47th Commandant of the United States Army Military Police School and Chief of the Military Police Regiment at Fort Leonard Wood, MO. A “mo boy” who hails from St. Louis, MO, Splindler completed his undergraduate work at University of Missouri-Columbia and over time earned three advanced degrees elsewhere.
Spindler’s career also includes four overseas tours in the European Area of Operation and multiple tours of duty in the Pentagon and Military District of Washington. His operational assignments include peace enforcement in Bosnia – Herzegovina; stability Ops in Kosovo and combat ops in Baghdad, Iraq. Spindler has received numerous awards and undoubtedly has the right stuff for the job. He is following in the footsteps of a man who weathered an MIA storm and never gave up on us. Many thanks, Maj Gen McKeague, for your dedication, respect and belief in the families and the mission.
Please remember that neither DPAA nor any other agency can fulfill the commitment of bringing home our loved ones without support from MIA families, veterans, military resources and humanitarian organizations — thank you. (I will be attending a regional family update later this month and will follow-up with a post.)