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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 the ‘Honoring Our Military’ Category

USMC Battle Color Ceremony at MCAS Miramar, 3rd MAW

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 09:03 AM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

The Silent Drill Platoon is a 24-man rifle unit that performs a unique precision drill exhibition. These Marines are individually selected from the Schools of Infantry to serve a two-year ceremonial tour at Marine Barracks Washington.


Attendees were honored by the presence of Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipents Col Bob Modrzejewski and Col. Jay Vargas, both of whom earned our nation’s highest military award for valor during the Vietnam War.


Maj Gen Drew & Kelly O’Donnell hosted the Battle Color Ceremony on March 8th at MCAS Miramar, home of the 3rd MAW. Maj Gen O’Donnell is Commanding General of the 3rd MAW.

 Marine Corps Air Station Miramar (MCAS Miramar), located in San Diego, CA, is home to the Third Marine Aircraft Wing (3rd MAW) and likely ranks as one of the best helicopter and fixed wing bases within the Corps, but then I’m a little prejudice!  I soon learned that MCAS Miramar is also an ideal venue for visiting groups like the Marine Corps Battle Color Detachment.

Permanently based at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C., the Battle Color Detachment embarks on a tour of the United States after finishing its annual rigorous training schedule at MCAS Yuma, Arizona, during the winter months.  The detachment kicks off its tour on the West Coast. 

The ceremonial unit includes the Marine Drum & Bugle Corps, also referred to as “The Commandant’s Own,”  the Silent Drill Platoon, and the Official Color Guard of the Marines.  This highly skilled group travels worldwide to demonstrate the discipline, professionalism and Esprit de Corps of the Marine Corps, and their performances always exceed expectations. 

My husband, Ron, and I enjoyed the great viewing opportunity, since the venue offered up-close seating for guests.  Ron sat next to Sgt Major Anthony (Tony) Spadaro, who serves as Sergeant Major of the 3rd MAW.  Sgt Major Spadaro and Maj Gen O’Donnell work closely together, so it was not surprising that Tony would be a bright, energetic guy with a sense of humor. 

Maj Gen O’Donnell is joined on the Parade Ground by Sgt Maj Anthony Spadaro with a fan and good looking future Marine. Sgt Maj Spadaro is the Sgt Maj for the 3rd MAW.

In keeping with Marine Corps tradition, Maj Gen O’Donnell conducted the Parade Review, flanked by two Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipients from the Vietnam War — retirees Col. Bob Modrzejewski and Col. Jay R. Vargas.  Col Modrzejewski received his Medal of Honor for valor during Operation Hastings, 15-18 July 1966, while Col Jay Vargas received his MOH for valor during the Battle of Dai Do, 30 April – 2 May 1968.  To read more about these heroes and others, visit the Congressional Medal of Honor Society at

Elaine Zimmer Davis and a member of the USMC Drum & Bugle Corps, also known as the “Commandant’s Own,” which is comprised of 79 Marine musicians, dressed in ceremonial scarlet and white uniforms. The Commandant’s Own is recognized worldwide as one of the premier musical units in our armed forces.

 When the event ended, the performers mingled with the visitors on the parade grounds and during a reception at the Officer’s Club — it was obvious that they all enjoyed MCAS Miramar’s hospitality.   This gave me an opportunity to thank several members of the Drum & Bugle Corps for performing at my first husband’s 40th Memorial Service at Arlington National Cemetery on August 20, 2009, bringing such dignity to the occasion.



Fly Marines! The Centennial of Marine Corps Aviation

Sunday, January 15, 2012 @ 02:01 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

 Photo by Eric Long, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution – ‘Fly Marines! The Centennial of Marine Corps Aviation: 1912-2012’ will be on display January 14, 2012 through January 6, 2013 at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. The exhibition tells the story of United States Marine Corps aviation over the past 100 years.

By Christian Davenport, Published: January 13 (Washington Post)

James Butcher was a 20-year-old lance corporal who had been in Vietnam only a couple of months, but that was long enough to realize that the scene in front of him — a Marine, sitting alone, waiting for his flight at the Phu Bai Air terminal in 1967 — was a powerful image of solitude and quiet that war so rarely affords.

So Butcher, a combat artist, took out his sketchbook and started drawing, hoping to get the details right. Doing nothing, he knew, is an important part of combat. “It’s when you can contemplate where you are, what you’re doing,” he said. “It’s when you learn a lot about fear.”

Eventually his scribbling became a painting, titled “Waiting,” and it is part of an exhibit, “Fly Marines! The Centennial of Marine Corps Aviation: 1912-2012,” which opened Saturday at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Read more