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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 ‘Personal’ Category


Tuesday, September 11, 2012 @ 06:09 AM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

The Chau Clan celebrates Seang’s wedding — the youngest and last to marry.  Cheav, Lan, Seang, Kuy, Kang

 The Chairman of the National League of POW/MIA Families, Ann Mills Griffiths, known for not mincing words,  is very complimentary of our relationship with the Cambodian Government , as are officials within the accounting community of the U.S. Government.  The Cambodians have become a strong partner in efforts to recover the last of our MIAs in their country  – 54 still unaccounted-for – in large part due to a new generation of leadership, trying to recover from a severely troubled past to enable the Cambodian people to enjoy a  new age of prosperity.   If the following blog is any indication of Cambodian  strength, courage and kindness, I am certain they will achieve that goal.

 During much of the 1960s, my life revolved around the Vietnam War, since I was married at that time to my first husband, Capt Jerry Zimmer, who became a Marine Corps jet pilot and subsequently lost his life at the tail end of the decade.  Other than spending years watching news clips, hoping that Jerry might have been captured and that I would recognize him on TV – even though I knew he was dead, I basically left the war behind and did not want to confront issues like what was happening in Laos and Cambodia to our troops and to the innocent civilian population that gets caught up in every war.

Yet, it was hard to miss the outrage over Cambodia’s Killing Fields in the 1970s and the aftermath.  In the early 1980s I learned what the will to survive was all about from the Chaus – an amazing Cambodian family who escaped the country they loved and feared – the latter drove them to flee, wading through swamps with leeches covering their bodies.  The parents, Judy and Leang, guided their five children, the oldest only 12 and the youngest an infant — not knowing if life would be better on the outside, but certainly nothing could be worse than inside Cambodia at that time.  It took the Chau family two attempts to escape, and on the second try they left Cambodia behind and ultimately made it to the United States, where they were sponsored by a religious organization. Read more


Wednesday, August 8, 2012 @ 06:08 AM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis


L-R:  Du’s son, Vinh; granddaughter, Thao; grandson, Nguyen; daughter-in-law, Huyen; Elaine; wife, Yen; and Du, have graciously opened their home to me on several occasions.


It has taken me a while to realize that my visits to Vietnam have been a positive factor in the constant challenge of reliving Jerry’s death while working on his case. Certainly the in-country JPAC leadership and field teams, working hard to find our loved ones, have provided a comfort zone and connection to people of like mind and culture in this faraway country. However, my transformation seems to have come gradually from people of so-called unlike mind and of a very different culture.

Whenever I return to Vietnam, as I did in May 2012, one of the most important stops on my itinerary is at the village of Son Vien, located in the valley below Jerry’s and Al’s crash site. Depending upon road conditions, the drive from Hoi An usually takes an hour or more, riding along bumpy roads into the back country of the Central Highlands. My guide and translator, Hoa (pronounced, whar), always contacts Du – a village elder –in advance to let him know that the American woman is coming to visit his family. Du is the former Viet Cong soldier, who led us to Jerry’s crash site three years ago, and I always look forward to this part of my time in country. Inevitably, when our driver begins the final lap of our journey, Du appears from out of nowhere on his motorbike, motioning us to follow him home. Read more