Our Mission:

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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NOTE:  BLOG POSTS ARE NOT UPDATED, SO INFORMATION MAY HAVE CHANGED OVER TIME.

Back to Jerry’s Crash Site in Vietnam…

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 @ 11:02 PM  posted by Elaine

I’m heading back to Vietnam in March and hope to learn more about Jerry’s accident from the locals, who are predominantly farmers and still live in the village below the crash site.  I’ve been a writer for several years, and research goes with the territory.  I plan to put that skill to work during my time in Vietnam.  If everything goes well, I will send some tweets.   Otherwise, I will have lots of feedback and video to share upon my return.

During my last visit, I was able to establish a relationship with a former Viet Cong farmer, who has been extremely helpful in describing the events surrounding the crash. We know that other villagers spoke to government officials many years ago about skeletal remains and larger pieces of aircraft debris.  In fact, a villager made a coffee table out of a piece of debris.  Last year, someone from JPAC took a photo of that table.  If it hasn’t been confiscated by the Communists, I hope to talk with the villager who has the table and, hopefully, learn more about the crash.  Now that Jerry’s case is back on the excavation list, it’s possible that the Vietnamese government has custody of the table.  Excavations can be a win-win situation for the Vietnamese and Americans – more on that later.

Gene Mares will accompany me again, and I thank his wife, Sylvia, for her tremendous support.  Gene and I have known each other since we were about 18 years old.  His friendship with Jerry goes back to the 8th grade, and he later served as Best Man in our wedding.  Jerry recruited Gene into the Marine Corps and encouraged him to become an F4 navigator (RIO).   Their Vietnam tours overlapped slightly, and both were attached to VMFA 542 in Da Nang.  They flew together for several missions before Gene returned to the states.  Like so many guys who came home from the Vietnam War and left behind their good buddies, Gene still feels the loss and takes it personally – I hope his second visit to Jerry’s crash site will help him close the book on this tragic event.

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