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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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Archive for August, 2017

TURNING POINT IN JERRY’S CASE?

Friday, August 25, 2017 @ 08:08 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

 

I captured this image during a PPT presentation at the 2016 Family League meeting, demonstrating the effort required to locate the remains of MIAs from downed aircraft in the mountainous terrain of Southeast Asia.  Nowadays many searches involve our unaccounted-for service members killed in high-speed crashes, such as  the F-4 Phantom piloted by my first husband, Capt. Jerry Zimmer, USMC.  This image is not related to Jerry’s case, nor do I know when, where or whose case was involved.  Privacy rights are always paramount out of respect for the families.

I rarely forget August 29th, as the day that Jerry was killed-in-action during the Vietnam War, when his F-4 Phantom was shot down in 1969, over the Que Son Mountains of South Vietnam. This year the 29th has special significance.

SURVEYING THE CRASH SITE
Not only will it be the 48th Anniversary of Jerry’s death, but weather permitting, teams from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) and the Vietnamese Office for Seeking Missing Persons (VNOSMP) are camping out on the mountainside of Jerry’s crash site in Quang Nam Province, conducting an 8-day survey, from Aug 25 – Sept 2,2017.

The importance of this survey cannot be minimized, not only for its danger, but its outcome. Due to the size of the crash site, DPAA and predecessors have conducted several excavation phases, as is typical of many jet crashes in mountainous areas of Southeast Asia. This survey will cover the last area of the site – on the side of the mountain with the most dangerous terrain, requiring certified mountaineers and other specialists.

PRAYING FOR A MIRACLE
If the survey produces compelling evidence, such as human remains – even the slightest amount — then DPAA’s anthropologists could recommend another excavation in the future; however, if nothing of significance is found, then I think Jerry’s case will be closed. As most can imagine, I am praying for a positive outcome – maybe a miracle, but I also realize that the odds are not in my favor.

LOW-HANGING FRUIT PICKED
While excavations are considered the most intense and perhaps desirable part of the process in the search for remains, I think that the type of survey being conducted at Jerry’s site is unique and truly demonstrates what it takes to recover remains from jets like the F-4. The low-hanging fruit was picked years ago, and in recent years the concentration has been on the aircraft downed in mountainous areas of Southeast Asia. As difficult as it is to believe, DPAA, VNOSMP and predecessor groups have had success in finding remains in the crevices and wash basins of mountainous sites over the years. It is simply mindboggling.

SPECIAL TEAMS, SPECIAL EQUIPMENT
Here is a brief list of what it takes to get the survey accomplished:
The investigation team is based on the mountain during the survey.
The VNOSMP conducted all the preparations for the base camp and flew supplies in an Mi-17 to the site in advance of the US team’s arrival.
Leading the survey will be two anthropologists and two mountaineers, as well as the rest of the team, all of whom have specialties.

I want to thank our DPAA specialists in Detachment 2, in Hanoi, for their continued service to families like mine, along with the VNOSMP for being a true partner in helping to recover our MIAs. I’ve had the pleasure of watching this successful partnership for nearly a decade

Please stay connected, and I will post an update when available. Thanks very much for your support.