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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.

3RD MARINE AIR WING CELEBRATES USMCs 236TH BIRTHDAY!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 @ 07:11 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

 

Major General Drew & Kelly O’Donnell, Jr., and Capt. Ron Davis (Veteran), at the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing’s, 236th Marine Corps Birthday Ball. Maj Gen O’Donnell is CG of 3rd MAW, MCAS Miramar in San Diego.

Once a Marine, always a Marine is a cherished axiom that the Corps has embraced since its inception on 10 November 1775. Few other occasions reaffirm this unique brotherhood/sisterhood better than the Marine Corps Birthday, which is officially recognized every year on November 10th around the world.

Today, active duty and veteran Marines are celebrating in various locations, some on the battlefields of Afghanistan, others keeping the peace in Iraq, while still others are searching past wartime locations, looking for MIAs, like my first husband – Capt Jerry A Zimmer, USMC, and fellow warriors who never came home from the Vietnam War, along with thousands more, still unaccounted-for from WWII, Korea and the Cold War.

The largest celebration takes place in Washington, D.C., with the current Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James F. Amos, presiding, but there are other locations around the United States known for their big Marine Corps Birthday Balls, too. San Diego, California, is undoubtedly at the top of the list, if for no other reason than the Marine Corps rules in San Diego County! Within about a 20-mile radius, the county is home to three prominent bases – the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego; Marine Corp Air Station Miramar and Marine Corps Base Pendleton.

Although I was out of town, my husband, Ron, attended the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing’s, 236th Marine Corps Birthday Ball, as guest of Maj Gen Drew O’Donnell and wife Kelly. Maj Gen O’Donnell is Commanding General of the 3rd MAW at MCAS Miramar. Ron also had the pleasure of sitting next to the Guest of Honor, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, Joseph F. Dunford.

Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen Joseph “Fighting Joe” Dunford, and Capt. Ron Davis, Vietnam veteran,  at 3rd MAW, 2011 Marine Corps Birthday Ball.

Other special guests at the table included Group Captain Nick Laird, British RoyalAir Force and wife Donna Louise, both of whom had flown in from London for the event.  Laird and O’Donnell became close friends when the Marine Corps’ 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) and the United Kingdom’s Joint Aviation Group integrated on June 1, 2010, under O’Donnell’s command with Laird as second in command, at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan.


(Front): Group Capt. Nick & Donna Louise Laird; (L-R): 3rd MAW Sgt Maj Anthony & Kathryn Spadaro; MajGen Drew & Kelly O’Donnell, Jr; Asst.Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford; Ron Davis; Col Robert & Libby Leary.

“I’ve attended a lot of Marine Corps Birthday celebrations over the years, but this one was the best,” said Ron, who was among the 1,000-plus Marines and guests at the new Hilton Hotel in downtown San Diego. “Drew was truly impressive, and General Dunford captivated the audience with a motivational presentation. It felt good to be a Marine and part of this wonderful event, even if I had a few hundred more gray hairs than most!”

My Marine Corps Birthday memories are a little more limited than Ron’s, but I do remember when I was a young Marine wife, attending my first Marine Corps Birthday Ball and a 40ish senior officer, who I thought was an old guy at the time, said: “Your husband probably will forget a few important dates over the years, but he won’t forget the Marine Corps Birthday.” At the time, I wasn’t convinced, but in the decades since, I’ve decided that the officer was not all that old and definitely spot-on about the unforgettable Marine Corps Birthday.

Happy 236th Marine Corps Birthday to all Marines around the world.

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