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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 ‘Moving Toward Vietnam Excavation’ Category

JERRY’S EXCAVATION IS OVER!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 @ 01:09 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

Dr. Robert Mann

CIL Deputy Director/Anthropologist Dr. Bob Mann is regarded by many as the top forensic bone expert in the world.

The word is out. “The Americans have gone,” says Mr. Du, the former Vietcong farmer who led us to Jerry’s and Al’s crash site, nearly two years ago. Thanks to him, about 50 villagers were gainfully employed for a month, serving as excavation workers at the site, primarily in sifting roles. Like Mr. Du, we are waiting to hear what–if anything–the JPAC team was able to find.

It is not uncommon for an excavation to reap non-specific matter that looks like human remains, especially osseous (bone) material. At our guys’ site, I know they found a lot of life support gear on a daily basis; however, I don’t know if they found human remains; we should receive some feedback soon; namely, because JPACs Central Identification Laboratory (CIL), located in Hawaii, conducts a vetting process at the conclusion of Field Operations, before the ceremonial repatriations begin. Read more

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