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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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT JPAC

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 @ 11:01 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

Elaine and Johnie Webb at JPAC Hq, standing in front of a wooden plaque, displaying all the names of POW/MIA recoveries since 1970. The plaque is prominently displayed in the reception area.

In brief, JPAC has about 400 military and civilian workers who specialize in all the requisite skills needed to recover our POWs and MIAs from past wars. To my knowledge, there is no other group of this type anywhere that comes equipped with the manpower, finances and expertise to accomplish this mission.

Because JPAC reports to PACOM, it is a military organization with a Commander as the top leader—currently that person is Maj Gen Stephen Tom, USAR. Next in the military lineup is Deputy Commander Col John Sullivan, a career Marine, whose JPAC tour of duty will end in May 2011, I believe. Supporting the military are several civil service employees—most of whom have military backgrounds. This structure almost guarantees that the recovery goal of our MIAs will always be a priority (military to military) and be included in the DoD budget—HOWEVER, the typical problems of budget, policies and political wrangling still exist, according to my research, as with any government organization—so expect the unexpected.

With 87,925 MIAs spread throughout the world—not all of which experts say are recoverable for a variety of reasons, the job nonetheless is enormous and few organizations have JPACs depth of talent. Johnie Webb, a retired Army officer with 26 years of service and other key civilians like Ron Ward in Det2, are among JPACs core group, whose ongoing presence (and 20+ years in the recovery business) allow military personnel to rotate in and out as they serve their normal tours of duty.

JPACs Central Identification Lab (CIL) is the largest forensic lab of its type in the world and regarded by many as one of the most prestigious, primarily because of its high-level certifications and talent. Scientific Director Thomas D. Holland, Ph.D., originally from Arkansas, holds numerous credentials, as do his team members. Dr. Holland is on the fast track to create a next generation lab within the next few years—a facility that appears critically needed. Ground-breaking for the lab is supposed to occur in 2011, so let’s hope it’s still on the table. If Dr. Holland’s operation is to meet the new mandate imposed by the 2010 Defense Authorization Act, requiring 200 identifications per year by 2015, it would seem that the lab must be built.

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