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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 May, 2020

 

MEMORIAL DAY, 2020 — HONORING OUR FALLEN MILITARY HEROES

FOREVER IN OUR HEARTS & MINDS

 


 

 

Memorial Day Weekend is very special to those of us with missing loved ones still unaccounted-for from wars, such as the Vietnam War.  Despite the passage of time, families continue to keep the faith, assisting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), the US Government’s organization that oversees POW/MIA recoveries.  Often families provide important information to DPAA that can ultimately lead to the identification of a loved one’s fallen husband, son, father, brother, uncle, or grandfather. 

In terms of Vietnam War recoveries, the downside is that time is running short, because of Vietnam’s acidic soil; however, the upside is that our Government continues to pursue the remaining cases, which are the tough ones.  Families like mine, with a missing warrior in the area of the Que Son Mts. in South Vietnam,  are optimistic that our relationship with Vietnam and neighboring countries are stronger than ever.  For that reason, I am personally optimistic that DPAA can finish, to the extent possible,  this humanitarian effort to bring home the remains of my husband, Marine Capt. Jerry Zimmer; his RIO 1st Lt Al Graf; and others, bringing closure to families who still wait.  We thank DPAA and all others, of which there are many, from the bottom of our hearts for what you do.  

 

Reflecting on Memorial Day, June 2012, I am republishing the article I wrote, about my visit to Jerry’s Crash Site.  It will always rank as one of the major highlights in my life.  If interested in my experience, I hope you will read the following intro, and perhaps  press the link below to see the complete story.  My journey is not unlike many other families who lost loved ones in a very unpopular war.  Your interest in our journey helps keep this effort alive.  Thank you so much.

 


Seeing is Believing
My Visit to Jerry’s Crash Site, June 2012

 

Had someone told me that my first helicopter ride would be in a Russian-made MI-17, launched from Da Nang Heliport in central Vietnam, I would have thought they were crazy. Yet here I am in an MI-17 on a surreal journey in peacetime Vietnam, flying over the Que Son Mountains, where the remains of my first husband, Capt Jerry A. Zimmer – a Marine F-4 Phantom pilot shot down during the Vietnam War on Aug. 29, 1969, along with his navigator, 1st Lt Al Graf, are believed to be located, possibly with others from both sides of the battlefield in this mountainous graveyard.

 

In many ways, I have relived this journey in my dreams — probably a thousand times during the past 40 years, but this is reality, and I am no longer dreaming. Ironically, my foray coincides with the long 2012 Memorial Day weekend in the United States. Although not planned around the holiday – or at all — I know that every Memorial Day in future years will take me back to this experience for the rest of my life.

 

JPAC and Vietnamese Recovery Teams working at Jerry’s and Al’s crash site. They have not reached the tough stuff yet — the impact point will require rock climbing skills.

 

My visit to Jerry’s and Al’s crash site offered a rare opportunity to better understand the difficulty of finding loved one’s remains at crash sites like Jerry’s and Al’s, where the debris field is large and if remains are found, they are likely to be small. L-R: Elaine Zimmer Davis; Kristen Baker, anthropologist; Christian Stone, team leader.

 

If you are interested in reading the complete story and viewing more images of my visit to Jerry’s Crash Site in 2012, please click this link: