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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 ‘LEAVING OUR VIETNAM MIAs BEHIND?’ Category

An F4 ejection seat, mechanic's disarming device was presented to JPAC and helped to confirm that we had found Jerry's crash site.

If JPACs efforts are severely reduced in Vietnam, I believe that only the most viable cases will be worked, and the others might get pushed back. Unfortunately, there are some problems that require a super human effort to overcome; namely, the reality of bad logistics–as in site location, which probably describes many of the cases yet to be worked. Although location has been a challenge since the beginning, JPAC has been able to use helicopter transportation for difficult-to-access areas. However, for the past 8 mo. (approx), helicopters have been permitted only to transport supplies, not ground teams, because of safety permits. I’m sure this issue will be resolved in the future, but in the meantime, it is even more important that these sites have everything else in their favor. A well-researched case that has a good chance of success will get JPACs attention.

MOST IMPORTANT, TAKE OWNERSHIP OF YOUR LOVED ONE’S CASE. GET INVOLVED. BECOME A WILLING PARTNER TO JPAC. IF YOU ARE PASSIONATE AND CONFIDENT ABOUT YOUR CHANCES OF SUCCESS, THEN YOU NEED TO INJECT “NEW LIFE” INTO A CASE THAT HAS BEEN ON THE BACK BURNER FOR FOUR DECADES. Read more

LEATHERNECK MAGAZINE: JULY 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010 @ 01:06 PM  posted by Elaine
July 2010. p. 40-41

NUMBER CRUNCHING COULD HURT MIA RECOVERY EFFORTS IN VIETNAM
–By Elaine Zimmer Davis

Turf battles are nothing new, but when it comes to repatriating the remains of America’s MIAs, no one—government officials, veteran organizations or affected families—wants to favor one war over another. And while the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2010 embraces the MIA issue, it may inadvertently have done just that.

How to deal with MIAs from the Vietnam War is posing a dilemma. At issue is a mandate in the NDAA pertaining to “Missing or Deceased Persons” in military or defense-related positions, dating back to World War II. The mandate stipulates, “Beginning with fiscal year 2015, the POW/MIA accounting community has sufficient resources to ensure that at least 200 missing persons are accounted for under the program annually.” In short, the Joint Prisoner of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC), headquartered in Hawaii, must increase its identification numbers to meet the quota.

In FY 2009, JPAC made 98 identifications, with 26 individuals from the Korean War, 19 from the Vietnam War and 53 from WWII. Ironically, WWII, which began in 1941, produced the most results, while the Vietnam War, nearly two decades later, lagged far behind. During a recent excavation outside of Saigon, JPAC’s Lieutenant Colonel Todd Emoto, United States Army, Commander of Detachment 2 in Hanoi, discussed the challenges facing the organization in Vietnam.

“Remains are degrading at an alarming rate due to the acidity of soil, climate and other post-depositional processes, in comparison to other parts of the world,” said LTC Emoto. “The quantity of the remains that we find in Southeast Asia is normally small in comparison to other areas in which JPAC operates. Many times, a single tooth or a small bone fragment will allow JPAC to identify a missing American here.” Read more