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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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Archive for the ‘Elaine Zimmer Davis’ Vietnam Travels’ Category

Hello From Vietnam

Thursday, August 19, 2010 @ 09:08 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

After many hours of travel — 30+ or more — I arrived in Vietnam on the 18th and am currently in Hoi An where I will be based for the next three days.

This afternoon, I will visit the base camp, to meet our excavation team and its Vietnamese counterpart. The rain has been torrential since my arrival. In fact, last night it rained so hard that if the wind were blowing, I’m sure it would have been monsoon conditions. I’m certain that many of our Marines, who spent a tour or two in Vietnam, remember those hellish rains.

Hoa, my interpreter, checked in this morning, so no disconnects there — however, the day is young.

A word about traveling alone in Vietnam. The people have been extraordinarily nice to me. I’m traveling light but am transporting one heavy suitcase of junk food and libations for the team. I was sure this suitcase wouldn’t make it, either because of aircraft changes or thirsty luggage handlers. But all arrived in good shape.

I don’t know if the weather has been bad since the team began excavating, but rain is a huge disadvantage. Although I hope they’re having some success, I am more concerned about their spirits than anything else. Nothing boosts a team spirits like finding possible remains. The work is exceptionally difficult, so I hope to let them know of our family’s appreciation, no matter what happens in the end.

I will try to send a blog after my visit to the base camp and give you an update; however, it’s always ify as to the reliability of my Internet connection — so far, so good, though.

Thanks for checking in!

JERRY’S EXCAVATION HAS BEGUN!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 09:08 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

All the sites now being investigated or excavated during JPACs 100th JFA (Joint Field Activity) in Vietnam appear on this slide, including Jerry and Al's site (RT2). This slide was included in LTC Todd Emoto's presentation to the attendees at the recent League meeting in Washington, D.C. (Double click to enlarge)

We have good news! JPACs recovery team is excavating Jerry’s and Al’s crash site right now, and they will continue looking for remains throughout the month of August, into the 1st week of September. Words cannot adequately express our family’s gratitude for all the support we’ve received throughout this two-year journey to bring home Jerry’s remains from Vietnam. Everything counted, believe me— from the hundreds of emails, to the boots-on-the-ground in Vietnam. Asking people to dredge up the past or pulling newcomers into this saga, was beyond the call, but everyone came through for Jerry. I hope we’re successful in bringing home his remains, but no matter what happens, we have all gone the distance together. Thank you so much.

I have been cleared by JPAC and its Vietnamese counterpart to visit the base camp, located below the crash site, close to the village of Son Vien. I want to personally thank the men and women who are working on the excavation in unbelievably challenging conditions. Getting to the crash site is considered moderately difficult, despite the 25-35 minute daily hike up the mountain, along a narrow, rocky trail, and I doubt that coming down is a cake walk. The area has been cleared of unexploded ordinance and jungle brush, but no one ventures off the trail or away from authorized areas, for safety reasons. Probably the worst part is the sauna-like heat. As many Vietnam vets will recall, it is unbelievably hot this time of year in the Central Highlands. In fact, the team’s heat meters on the first hike clocked above 106 degrees relative temperature! Read more