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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 ‘News from Others’ Category

MARINES FROM MARS

Friday, December 16, 2011 @ 11:12 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis


The Dong Ha Nerd Club — operators at the south side of the station, call sign NOEFA – November Zero Echo Foxtrot Alpha — had been through a tough day with the station’s bunker getting destroyed. Top, L-R: Ray Gross, Barry Weathersby and Harry Boggs. Bottom: Bill Biggs & Jim Elshoff.  CLICK HERE FOR MARINES FROM MARS-PDF   

During the Vietnam War, there were no cell phones, computers, Skype or the Internet, but many servicemen were able to connect – at least, occasionally — with family members back home, thanks to the Military Affiliate Radio Service (MARS).  Each branch of service set up its own MARS stations, manned by licensed ham radio operators, at strategic locations in South Vietnam.   Had it not been for the MARS operators, most  of whom served a normal, 13-month tour with the Army, Air Force, Navy or Marine Corps, many of us would not have spoken to our husbands, fathers, sons, or brothers ever again after they deployed to Southeast Asia. 

This blog is a tribute to every MARS operator who patched our guys through to the states, coped with the happy and sad calls and put up with bad radio protocol – namely, from family members like me, who never said “over” at the right moment!  When I eventually became a boater and learned proper radio speak, I cringed at how I’d screwed up every MARS call from Jerry, which were few in number.  I still remember his words and frustrated laugh:  “Elaine, you have to wait for me to say ‘over’ before you say anything.”  MARS operators, who served in Vietnam, undoubtedly heard this over and over again — no pun intended!

I recently spoke to Barry Weathersby about his 23 months (overall) in Vietnam – primarily serving as a MARS operator — and he summed up his extended tour this way:  “It was the most important time of my life,” said Barry, an Alabama boy, who dropped out of college at 18 and enlisted in the Marine Corps.  “Eighteen to 21 is a pretty formative time in your life, and it felt like I was doing something – I was in a decision-making role, where I could be of some benefit to people.” Read more

ZIMMER FIELD — IN A LEAGUE OF ITS OWN

Wednesday, June 8, 2011 @ 01:06 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

Members of Maine-Endwell Little League and their parents celebrated Memorial Day with a game at Zimmer Field in Maine, NY. Thanks to Dr. James DeSantis, the kids learned a little about the field's namesake--Capt. Jerry Zimmer, USMC, and the meaning of patriotism.

Many thanks go to Dr. James DeSantis, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Johnson City, NY, for the heartwarming email on Memorial Day weekend. Dr. DeSantis explained that his children and many others play Little League on Zimmer field in Maine, NY, and that he “felt it was appropriate for the children, on this Memorial Day, to understand who Jerry Zimmer was and just what it means when they step on the field and hear the National Anthem.”

Dr. DeSantis then did some research and found his way to Jerry’s blog site. After learning of our efforts to bring home Jerry’s remains from Vietnam, he passed along this information to the other parents and children of Maine-Endwell Little League. Jerry would be proud of the kids who are putting Zimmer field to good use and the parents who are teaching their kids about patriotism—qualities that helped Jerry achieve so much in so little time.

Many years ago, the town of Maine—a rural community, located near the Triple Cities of Vestal, Endicott and Johnson City in upstate New York, dedicated the Little League field to Jerry, who was a hometown hero. Jerry was the first boy to earn a college degree in the town of Maine and go on to become a Marine Corps jet pilot.

Respect for our military begins at home, and the families of Maine- Endwell Little League are doing a great job. Their website includes a beautiful tribute to Jerry. Please take a moment to visit www.maine-endwelllittleleague.org/. Kudos to the League’s web administrator, Terry McFadden. I like your work!