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.

SEARCHING FOR MIAs IN VIETNAM — PART THREE

Saturday, June 5, 2010 @ 06:06 AM  posted by Elaine

JPAC Investigator with Metal Detector-8-12-09

PART THREE

Of the Vietnam War locations, Vietnam appears to be more complex when it comes to trying to find the remains of our MIAs.  For starters, Vietnam is where the greatest number of our MIAs went missing, and this is the country for which we were engaged in a contentious 10-year battle.  Although our relationship with the Vietnamese government is better than ever, Vietnam is not a country in which Americans should plan to launch their own recovery efforts, thinking that they can get the job done by simply paying off a Vietnamese. I suggest that anyone with this mindset, do their homework before jumping into such a venture. I won’t go into the specifics, but even legitimate groups with lots of credentials for conducting excavations are warned against going into Vietnam. On the one hand, there are diplomatic issues at stake. On the other, there are scams that can result in the total corruption of an excavation site, with no hope of ever finding remains. No one wants the journey to end on that note, leaving a family completely devastated – all over again.

If you go to Vietnam in search of information and/or to find a loved one’s site, do your research. Although tour groups are great for returning vets, they are not geared to looking for an MIA – primarily because they have an obligation to members of their group. If finances are tight, you may have one shot at talking to pertinent people in country, so save your touring for another time. What you will need, however, are two in-country sources, preferably an American guide and a Vietnamese translator who speaks reasonably good English. In our case, we used Doug Reese, who lives in country, and his translator, Hoa – both of whom were critical in helping us find Jerry’s crash site. Hoa actually went door-to-door in the village below Jerry’s crash site.

Finally, stay focused on the case, and look for ways of helping – not hindering – JPACs efforts. You will make mistakes along the way – we certainly did — but if you believe in your case, then fix whatever’s broken, and keep going. We may not “win,” as in bringing home Jerry’s remains, but I’ll know in my heart that we didn’t leave a stone unturned. I think you will feel the same way.

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