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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Brown University’s Vietnam Oral History Project Is Underway

Friday, May 28, 2010 @ 06:05 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

Brown University's John Hay Library, built in 1908 with money from Andrew Carnegie, is now used to house the school's archives, of which will include Brown's Vietnam Oral Histories. I met with Dr. Elizabeth Taylor in the room pictured in this 1940s image, and it was an extremely moving experience.

Many of you are aware that Brown University and other Ivy League schools kicked ROTC programs off their campuses in the late 60s and early 70s. I use the word “kicked,” to give you a sense of the times we lived in back then. In fact, it was more politically correct to use “kicked” than “ended,” explaining the death of patriotism – as I saw it – for years to come. Ironically, the very people who had been scourged for serving in Vietnam would play key roles in bringing patriotism back to the American culture. And although ROTC programs still have not returned to most Ivy League campuses, Brown has decided to tell the story about the other side of the Vietnam War, as seen through oral histories of its graduates that served in Vietnam.

Thanks to two bright people with strong ties to Brown – David Taylor, a former NROTC scholarship recipient who graduated with Jerry from Brown University, Class of ’66, became a Marine and attended the same Basic School (TBS 1-67), flight school and went on to become a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. The other is Dr. Elizabeth Taylor, known by her friends as “Beth,” who is a professor of non-fiction writing at Brown University, where she received her master’s degree and doctorate. (I just ordered her newly published book, The Plain Language of Love and Loss: A Quaker Memoir, and look forward to reading it). Among Beth’s writings are scholarly works dealing with the effect that the Vietnam War had on different people’s lives. And since much of her work these days focuses on writing projects for Brown’s archives, Beth was interested when David suggested that she consider a Brown Vietnam Oral History project.

David and I reconnected by email over a year ago, so I was thrilled when he told me of Beth’s project. David was Beth’s first Vietnam Oral History interview, and I am sure it was a good one. He thought it would be a great opportunity for me to participate in the project, as well, so that Jerry’s story could be told and included in the archives with other participants in the project. Since I have been visiting our home in Rhode Island, the timing was good, and I ended up meeting Beth on campus earlier this week. It was the first time that I had been involved in an oral history project, and Beth made it easy. I think Jerry would have been proud of my efforts. I laughed, cried and went through all the emotions, and couldn’t have asked for a nicer person in which to share my feelings.

If any of Brown’s Vietnam vets are reading this blog, please contact Beth so that you can participate in the program. I will be donating some of Jerry’s letters, tapes and photos, as well as the Western Union telegram, advising me of his death, and other communications for the archives. Jerry’s son, Craig, is thrilled that we can do this for his dad.

2 Responses to “Brown University’s Vietnam Oral History Project Is Underway”

  1. Frank P. Barrows III says:

    Hi Elaine,

    I’m contacting you at the request of Mike West, a fellow Marine TBS 4-67 class member. I graduated from Brown in May 1966 and served in Vietnam from 8/67 to 9/68. I don’t know how I can be of help but I’m willing to try.

    Semper Fi,
    Frank P. Barrows III
    Lt Col USMC (Ret)

  2. Elaine Zimmer Davis says:

    Thanks, Frank — I hope you’ll stand-by, if I need to call in the troops. Best, Elaine


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