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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.

Hello From Vietnam

Thursday, August 19, 2010 @ 09:08 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

After many hours of travel — 30+ or more — I arrived in Vietnam on the 18th and am currently in Hoi An where I will be based for the next three days.

This afternoon, I will visit the base camp, to meet our excavation team and its Vietnamese counterpart. The rain has been torrential since my arrival. In fact, last night it rained so hard that if the wind were blowing, I’m sure it would have been monsoon conditions. I’m certain that many of our Marines, who spent a tour or two in Vietnam, remember those hellish rains.

Hoa, my interpreter, checked in this morning, so no disconnects there — however, the day is young.

A word about traveling alone in Vietnam. The people have been extraordinarily nice to me. I’m traveling light but am transporting one heavy suitcase of junk food and libations for the team. I was sure this suitcase wouldn’t make it, either because of aircraft changes or thirsty luggage handlers. But all arrived in good shape.

I don’t know if the weather has been bad since the team began excavating, but rain is a huge disadvantage. Although I hope they’re having some success, I am more concerned about their spirits than anything else. Nothing boosts a team spirits like finding possible remains. The work is exceptionally difficult, so I hope to let them know of our family’s appreciation, no matter what happens in the end.

I will try to send a blog after my visit to the base camp and give you an update; however, it’s always ify as to the reliability of my Internet connection — so far, so good, though.

Thanks for checking in!

10 Responses to “Hello From Vietnam”

  1. Ellen Mahar Pulver says:

    Elaine…so glad to hear things are progressing in your efforts …I’ll continually pray for you and the excavation team that all efforts are successful to recover Jerry’s remains.God bless; I think of you often.

  2. Tim Mahar says:

    Hoping you have much success . Having been there, I can relate to the rainy season downpours. Hope you have good raingear with you.
    I wish the gov’t of Vietnam would give you more cooperation in expediting this matter. You have been a Rock with your patience.
    God Bless to all in the recovery operation.
    Till Jerry comes Home. Semper Fi. Tim

  3. Bonnie Hajduk says:

    Hope the weather gets better for you; our hearts and minds are with you on your journey. Love, Bonnie and Jim

  4. Frank Buzzard says:

    God Speed, Elaine and team,
    What a moving story. What a fine example of Marines bringing their fallen heroes home. May Capt Jerry A. Zimmer and his RIO, 1st Lt. Al Graf, come home to rest in peace in America. I salute their sacrifice and I salute the ethos of the Marine Corps to not leave their fallen brothers behind. I salute all of you making this happen

    I flew all over this AO as a Chinook pilot for the 101st ABN DIV Aug 68-Aug 69 based at Camp Eagle just south of Hue. This included flying with and supporting our fine Marines out of Vandergrift Combat Base just south of the Rockpile for 6 weeks in Feb, Mar 69 during Operation Dewey Canyon. The 101st sent Chinooks to Vandy to support our Marines. What a fine example of combined arms cooperation.
    Frank Thomas Buzzard
    B. Co., 159 ASHB, 101st ABN DIV, RVN aug 68-69
    Retired NASA Space Shuttle and International Space Station Chief Engineer.

  5. Ken & Dottie Dower says:

    Elaine – Thanks for the latest. We will be checking your site quite often and anxious to read your next report. Oh! What we would give for just some of that rain. Triple digit heat here in Southern Califonia. – Ken & Dottie

  6. Ken & Dottie,
    See you soon! Elaine

  7. Frank,

    Thanks for checking in — I really do appreciate your comments. I don’t know what the end game will be, but it feels so good to be part of this great effort to bring the guys home. Hope you’ll stay connected. Elaine

  8. The weather hasn’t been great, but the teams know how to deal with those blips on the screen. This is a monumental effort, and I’m so proud of what everyone is doing for our guys. Wonderful to hear from you. Love, Elaine

  9. Tim,
    So great to hear from you. The team is working hard, but there is much to cover. The crash was pretty severe, as you can imagine. Stay tuned. Elaine

  10. Ellen,

    I think prayers may be the key to this operation. There’s so much ground to cover, but I’m still hopefu1. Thank you for staying connected. Elaine


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