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.

Blogging for Jerry–Giving Back

Monday, September 6, 2010 @ 12:09 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

Jerry introduced Craig to an F4 while at Beaufort, S.C.--his last duty station before departing for Vietnam.

We’re still waiting to hear if any remains were found during the recent excavation in Vietnam of my former husband, Capt Jerry A Zimmer, an F4 pilot who was shot down in the Que Son mountains, August 29, 1969. The JPAC team was also searching for the remains of 1st Lt. Al Graf, who was the RIO for that mission.

At this point, we know from our Vietnamese contacts that the site was not closed upon completion of the excavation. We also know that the team found more life support gear, which is consistent with what the JPAC investigative team found several months ago, prior to reopening the case. Otherwise, we are like everyone else, waiting to hear if any human remains were found.

While waiting is difficult, it’s also part of the overall process. My guess is that our case will not be completed soon. Having spent a lot of time conducting online research to learn about the ins and outs of repatriations from Vietnam, I know that JPACs Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii is tasked with determining identifications of remains. They use a variety of techniques to reach a conclusion, derived from dental, osseous and historical evidence. In Jerry’s and Al’s case, we hope that the mitochondrial DNA that both mothers provided many years ago will eventually be able to assist the lab, should remains be found.

For me, the journey to find Jerry’s remains has been a labor of love. Jerry was the father of my son, Craig. In turn, Jerry was the son of wonderful parents—all our lives have continued to be interconnected for over 40 years, because we all loved Jerry. For me personally, coming to terms with Jerry’s death has been an interesting experience, to say the least—heartbreaking and encouraging. Periodically I’ve asked myself if I was looking for closure. The answer for me has always been, “no.” I closed Jerry out of my life many years ago, because that’s the only way I could go on. I had cried a million tears and ran away from the horror of losing Jerry in a horrific way that had no ending. I had a family that needed me, and they became my priority in life.

My children are raised and my marriage is solid, and I am free to give back to Jerry—finally. I always thought of “giving back” in a different sense, but my way of giving back is to do everything I can to bring home Jerry’s remains. My life wouldn’t be what it is today without the start that Jerry gave me. I can think of no better way to honor someone whose life was ended too soon than to honor him with a blog to enable all visitors to know that he was a special guy. I will always love Jerry, because love doesn’t end with death. But it’s a different kind of love than I have with Ron, and he understands completely.

When I decided to create a blog for Jerry, it became apparent that Al also was killed in the crash. Should I write about Al, too? I decided that would be inappropriate in the bigger sense. I never knew Al , and I believe his family and friends are covering the story, too. I don’t know if the coverage is open to all, but I decided that my blog would be. Its exclusive to Jerry, but not to my readers—all are welcome.

Most gratifying has been the support from Marines around the country—active duty and retired. Many of them have lost buddies and understand that no war is over until every effort is made to bring home our POWs and MIAs. Although I had not met the leadership of JPAC until I attended the annual Washington, D.C., League Conference recently, I have been impressed with their treatment of our loved ones. They’re not perfect, but they do care. At the Vietnam level, I have met the Detachment people on three short occasions and have had an opportunity to better understand their mission, too. The bulk of my material for the blog, however, comes from research, which is the backbone for non-fiction writers. I have not had access to private information, but rather I have worked hard to make my blogs meaningful for Jerry’s case.

If Jerry’s remains come home, I will finally feel as if I’ve given back to the person who gave me so much at a time when I had so little. I will keep you posted.

3 Responses to “Blogging for Jerry–Giving Back”

  1. Ellen Mahar Pulver says:

    Elaine…Rest assured, the prayers for Jerry’s recovery will never stop; nor will our support for your incredible efforts through this journey. I think of you often and know that God will reward you for your devotion to Jerry. My best to you and your wonderful family.

  2. Ellen–thank you so much for your prayers and kindness. We’ve still got another shot at this, so I haven’t given up. Elaine

  3. Molly Frantz says:

    Elaine — I am a bit late reading this entry. But I know you know I am always thinking of you and what you are doing for Jerry. But Jerry isn’t the only one you are giving back too. Each of us who knew Jerry is moving forward through your work. I doubt any of us can truly put Vietnam behind them. It was such a part of our young adult life. Honoring Jerry so, honors each of us as we remember how our Marine and Vietnam days shaped us and continue to shape us. Thank you for doing this for Jerry, for me, and for all who knew Jerry, or someone who Jerry reminds them of.


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