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.


Vietnam Map


Getting Personal Is Hard To Do

Friday, March 5, 2010 @ 11:03 PM  posted by Elaine

They say, “Write about what you love,” but I couldn’t do it. That is, until our family learned that Jerry and Al’s remains might be available in Vietnam for repatriation to America. To jumpstart our effort, I knew the time had come for me to share my story about Jerry in a very public way, and it all began with the July 2009 issue of Leatherneck Magazine.

For the first time in my 25 years as a writer, my husband, Ron, actually called Leatherneck Magazine and talked to Executive Editor Col Walt Ford, a Vietnam veteran himself, about our efforts to repatriate the remains of Capt Jerry Zimmer and his navigator, 1st Lt Al Graf. Ron has always been proud of my ongoing fight to deal with Jerry’s death, and he felt that an article in Leatherneck could help speed up the repatriation process and inspire others to take the same journey. Soon after, Col Ford and I discussed the focus of my article, and ultimately I was invited to submit a story “on spec,” which Walt reviewed after submission and accepted for publication. A quality, prestigious publication, Leatherneck truly jumpstarted our efforts to bring Jerry home, and I will always be grateful for Col Ford’s support and belief in my ability to get the job done.

As a non-fiction writer who had always written third-person articles, it was an intimidating experience, to get personal with readers– most of whom I didn’t know — about losing Jerry, four decades ago. It meant that I would relive that fateful day when a Marine Corps casualty officer appeared at my door, changing my life forever. Worst of all, I would go back to that moment when Jerry’s plane went down in a ball of flames, taking with it the most important person in my life. My way of dealing with Jerry’s death had been to keep everything buried, and “shine it on.”

Although the pain has been significant throughout this latter day journey, I would not trade the experience for anything. We are dedicated to bringing Jerry home and to the belief that we wouldn’t be this far along without Leatherneck Magazine. If you’re interested in learning more, you’ll find my Leatherneck article in the “Articles & Links” section. You’ll also find a great article, written by Col Hays Parks, USMC, ret., about Jerry’s 40th Memorial Service. It’s wonderfully written from the heart.

3 Responses to “Getting Personal Is Hard To Do”

  1. Mike West says:

    Read your posts with interest. Sorry about Du’s new reluctance.

    Travel home safely; we will look forward, as always, to your firsthand account!


    M & M

  2. elaine says:

    Mike — thanks for the note. Super trip with lots to report — will be home in a few days. Can’t wait to share the details with you & Margi and the folks following the blog. See you soon. Elaine

  3. Mike West says:

    Hi Elaine:

    TBS Class 4-67 had a couple of Yale grads, a couple of Harvard grads, but none that I know of from Brown. I will double check, and if I am wrong, will put him or them in touch.



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