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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.

Playing By the Rules in Vietnam!

Sunday, February 21, 2010 @ 12:02 AM  posted by Elaine

JPAC Investigator with Metal Detector-8-12-09

Some of the most heartwarming suggestions about how to bring Jerry home have come from Marine Corps friends. At the top of the list is the notion that we could get a work party together, go to Vietnam, dig for Jerry’s remains and deliver them to Arlington Nat’l Cemetery. Or, get Moore’s Mauraders involved with its all-volunteer team of experienced investigators and excavators, specializing in repatriating MIA war-time casualties — primarily in the Pacific.

But realistically speaking, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) is mandated to work with the Vietnamese government on these matters, and it’s unlikely that the latter would allow a non-sanctioned group to dig for remains — remember, Vietnam is a communist country, and there is a definite protocol to follow — not always easy to understand, but it’s there. The biggest reason why JPAC and other authorized entities work with the Vietnamese government is because negotiations take place before an agreement is reached. Everything has a cost, and investigations/excavations are no exception. Consequently, I don’t think the Vietnamese government would take kindly to unauthorized people showing up, unannounced, at a crash site. And when you consider that we’re still looking for more than 1,000 MIAs, I am confident that the Vietnamese see the process as a viable, long-term commercial venture for locals to sift dirt, carry gear, prepare an area for excavation and many other tasks that go with the territory.

Mr Bay and Mr Du interviewed at crash site by JPAC 8-12-09

Also, it has been four decades since most of our servicemen were lost, so the excavations are tedious. We’re talking about a country with weather conditions that are less than favorable to the preservation of remains — not to speak of the danger that goes with working at certain sites where teams literally straddle cliffs in 100+ degree heat. And while it would be wonderful to bring Jerry home on our terms, we are mindful of how the system works and will abide by the rules.

Note: The attached images were taken of JPAC team members when they visited Jerry’s crash site on 8-12-2009, to conduct an investigation and determine the site’s viability for excavation. The team found evidence to warrant excavation, and we are awaiting a date for this to happen.

Maj Ed Nevgloski & Ron Ward - JPAC, Det 2- At Crash Site

4 Responses to “Playing By the Rules in Vietnam!”

  1. Shane Wall says:

    Excellent to see a picture of Mr Dự (Du) & Mr. Bảy (Bay). I presume Mr. Du is on the left in the shirt & cap and Mr. Bay is in the center, correct?

  2. Elaine says:

    Shane — actually it’s just the opposite. We had transposed the names first-time around and got it fixed after your comment. Thanx

  3. Eric Hudgens says:

    Elaine,

    I wish you the best of luck in your journey to bring Jerry home. Your persistence and perseverance is greatly admired. Ron sent me the power point presentation last year with the story and facts. I forwarded it on to all of my friends who are current or non-active duty Marines. They were all touched by the story. I’ll be sure to forward this website to them as well. I’m looking forward to future posts and updates.

    Take Care, and Good Luck!!!

    Eric

  4. Elaine says:

    Thanks, Eric — great to hear from you. Stay tuned!


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