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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ABOUT ME — Vietnam Enters My Life (PART TWO)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010 @ 10:06 AM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

As with most people, my life has been a series of coincidences. Who would have thought that Vietnam would enter my life at age 6, and change it forever.  The first story I ever wrote was published in the fourth grade.  It was about learning to eat with chopsticks, focusing on the fact that  I ended up with more food on my plate than in my stomach.  It was probably a good thing, since I was a chunky kid at that point.

But even more important, the story told about my special friendship with a Catholic priest that our family had befriended when I was in the first grade when we lived in Rhode Island. I will preface what I am about to say, because it’s important to know that I hated going to church, much to my mother’s embarrassment. I was a pretty good kid, except for the church and catechism thing, and the parish priest would actually visit a family’s home to find out why their child wasn’t at church.   We had several visits.

Then one Sunday, everything changed. A young priest by the name of Father Joseph Oanh from Vietnam ended up at our little parish, where Jerry and I would be married many years later. Our family sat through Father Oanh’s first mass, and I noted that his English was terrible, but he had the kindest face I had ever seen. In short, our family adopted Father Oanh, as did a couple of other families in the parish. But as a small child, I considered Father Oanh as my special friend.

For the next two or three years, I taught him English, and he talked to me about Vietnam, the country that he missed so much. We went out to Chinese restaurants, which is how I learned to eat with chopsticks. He would order food, telling me that it was “lousy”–giggling everytime he used the word, which he had learned somewhere. Whenever I hear someone say “lousy,” I think of Father Oanh. He used to say that the Vietnamese didn’t like the Chinese and that his country’s food was much better. He had the best sense of humor and was the kindest human being in the world. I hung out in the rectory, and the priests would always come by and check on us, and there was never a problem.

To be continued….

2 Responses to “ABOUT ME — Vietnam Enters My Life (PART TWO)”

  1. Edward A Stewart (Teddy) says:

    Hi Elaine, I was raised in Centerdale, RI and went to St Lawrence Church, I remember Fr. Oanh very well even though I was only about 8 or 9 at the time, the trips downtown to the chinese restarant are fresh in my mind to this day, Ed (Teddy) Stewart, NPH 62, CPO USN Ret.

  2. Teddy — I’m sure we crossed paths during that era. Father Joe was such a wonderful person, and his influence gave me a lot of strength in the early days after Jerry’s death. Thanks for checking in — I hope you’ll follow our progress and stay in touch. Elaine


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