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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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MIA RECOVERIES IN VIETNAM — ONE STEP AT A TIME

Thursday, February 12, 2015 @ 10:02 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

 

This manmade cave and charcoal trench is located inside the crash site perimeter.

This manmade cave and charcoal trench is located inside the perimeter of Jerry’s & Al’s crash site.

 

Searching for the remains of my first husband, Capt. Jerry Zimmer, USMC – an F4B jet pilot, shot down in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, August 29, 1969, along with his navigator, 1st Lt. Al Graf, has given me greater appreciation for the challenges associated with this very complicated pursuit.

WHERE TO NEXT?

In August 2014, I learned that two-thirds of Jerry’s and Al’s crash site had been excavated to completion and that anthropologists with the recently deactivated Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), now integrated into the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), had closed that portion of the site with no remains found to date.  However all is not hopeless, officials may now survey the last third part of the site, if recently found evidence indicates that remains may be in that area.

Recovered life support equipment, considered important to the future direction of Jerry’s case, was sent in September 2014 to the Life Science Equipment Laboratory (LSEL) at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio, for analysis.

TURNING POINT IN THE CASE?

Among the pieces of evidence sent to John Goines, Chief of the LSEL, were boot fragments. This seemingly innocuous evidence formed the basis of what turned out to be an important find. The fragments were from two different types of boots — one a flight boot and the other a jungle boot.   Combined with other evidence/data, Goines was able to confirm that two people were in the cockpit at the time of impact.

On a personal level, I can honestly say it helps to be reminded that the incident happened quickly and that Jerry and Al did not have time to suffer. Maybe the boot evidence and other life support equipment will lead to a turning point in the case.

I feel upbeat for the first time in a long time, and I think you’ll understand if you have time to read the full story.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL STORY IN PDF FORMAT 

10 Responses to “MIA RECOVERIES IN VIETNAM — ONE STEP AT A TIME”

  1. Mike Hutter says:

    Elaine:

    Your dedication is incredible and awe-inspiring. I have no doubt that Jerry’s remains will be located in our lifetime.

    Mike

  2. Mike,

    You are the one who has been awe-inspiring. You have remembered Jerry on the Wall for years and supported our efforts to repatriate his remains. I can’t thank you enough. Elaine

  3. Larry Karch says:

    Elaine,

    I wish you the very best in your heroic efforts to bring Jerry and Al back to our shores. The boot fragments are surely strong indications that the search for the crash site has narrowed significantly.

    I wish you the very best in your long quest.

    Sincerely,

    Larry Karch

  4. Larry,

    Thanks so much for your continued support — it really means a lot to me. Hopefully the government will finish the case soon so that we can celebrate our collective success in bringing home Jerry’s remains. My best, Elaine

  5. Clay Monroe says:

    Elaine, I can’t say it any better than Mike Hutter, those are my sentiments exactly, as I tried to convey in an earlier message. I was a bit too young to appreciate the heroism and sacrifices of men like Jerry at the time, but fortunately there are many excellent written accounts (I’m reading “Bury Us Upside Down” now) to help us appreciate the incredible efforts made by Jerry and others on behalf of their country. I, for one, will never forget.

  6. Clay — Nice to know you’re still following Jerry’s case…. I thought about you today — truly — so it was a little surprising to receive your nice comment. Thank you for checking in. I am going to check out “Bury Us Upside Down.”

  7. Dianne Williamson says:

    Elaine, Tim (Cunningham) and I keep hoping Jerry and Al will be found. Semper Fidelis.

  8. Dianne,

    Many thanks to you and Tim for hanging in over the years. I am very hopeful, too, but at the same time trying to keep my emotions in check. Great to hear from you!

  9. Larry Karch says:

    Elaine,

    I thought that I would let you know that B Company at The Basic School (Jerry’s company) is planning a 50th Anniversary Reunion on 20-23 Oct 2016 in Fredericksburg, VA. We have a number of things in mind to remember those who have passed.

    At the banquet dinner on 22 Oct, we’ll have a Table of Remembrance with a single place setting located in a prominent place. On the table will be suitable-for framing copies of the third and fourth stanzas of the poem “For the Fallen” by Robert Laurence Binyon.

    Also, we will mint a commemorative coin for each B Company member. We plan to send coins for those who have passed to their NOK. So, when the coins are ready, I’ll let you know and will send you Jerry’s coin. If you happen to know the addresses of any other NOK for B Company members, we would appreciate obtaining them from you. We do not know how successful we will be going through the Marine Corps.

    As always, I send warm regards.

    Semper Fidelis,

    Larry Karch

  10. Larry, thanks for the info on TBS 1-67, B Company — seems impossible that we’re writing about the 50th reunion! For Marines and some of us who were lucky enough to accompany our husbands, Quantico was a huge bonding experience, and I know that all those who can get to Fredericksburg will be there. My experience with Next-of-Kin (NOK) family members is basically with those whose loved ones were KIA/NBR. As I understand it, if the military member’s remains were not ever found or identified, most were eventually classified as MIA, as was the case with Jerry. If you’d like to send me the list of deceased Marines for which you’re trying to locate their NOK — I will post the info on my site. Also, if you have a Marine who is adept at online research, there are a lot of geneology databases, which can be helpful. Also, I am certain that Marine veterans will be happy to circulate the word within their respective email groups. Good luck.
    Elaine


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