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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 ‘POW-MIA LEAGUE OF FAMILIES’ Category

A view of attendees at the closing dinner for the 2010 meeting of the National League of POW/MIA Families in Washington, D.C.

The National League of POW/ MIA Families with loved ones still unaccounted-for in Southeast Asia will gather in Washington, D.C., July 21-24, for their annual meeting with recovery, military and government officials. Although the League has been meeting annually for four decades, I attended my first meeting last year and was impressed with the level of discussions, as well as the knowledge and devotion of families who have been involved with Vietnam War efforts from the beginning.

My focus has been on Vietnam where Jerry was killed in 1969; basically, the huge number of MIAs still unaccounted-for throughout the world has necessitated that families become personally involved with a loved one’s case, whether lost in Vietnam, WWII or Korea. Thanks to the leadership efforts of DPMO, JPAC and the National League of POW/MIA Families, we all have incredible communication tools and opportunities available to us nowadays, making it easy to interface one-on-one at events like the annual League meeting in D.C.

What makes this year’s meeting particularly important is the realization that MIA recovery operations are focusing more on WWII locations to comply with the mandate in the 2010 Defense Authorization Act ; therefore, I anticipate that many of the attendees will want to know specifically what impact this is having on Vietnam War recoveries. I am personally interested in several topics that are expected to be discussed, and the following questions are a few that I hope will be will be addressed at some point during the three-day meeting:

What significant changes are anticipated for Vietnam War detachments, manpower and field operations?

How many VN War identifications are being made annually from current field operations? How many from the cache of stored remains at JPACs Central Identifications Laboratory (CIL)?

Is there any new technology, unique to Vietnam War identifications?

How many MIA cases from the VN War are now believed recoverable, according to investigations and other data?

What role will unilateral operations play in Vietnam?

POW/MIA Families Meet in D.C. — Change is Coming

Sunday, August 1, 2010 @ 05:08 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

L-R: Sara Frances Shay; Ann Mills Griffiths, Exec. Director of the League; and Mary Louisa Shay Rutledge, at the League (more photos in the gallery).

I’m confident that many of the 300-plus families, veterans and others attending last month’s 41st annual meeting of the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia (aka “the League”) returned home from Washington, D.C., with a feeling of “been there, done that.” However, it was a learning experience for me, since I was a newcomer. And although I am well versed on Jerry’s case, it was apparent that the recovery of America’s POWs and MIAs from the Vietnam War continues to be a complex issue, of which I have a lot to learn. Unfortunately, my late debut into this subculture has come at a seemingly difficult time because of economics and changing priorities.

A number of government agencies were represented by members of their leadership who delivered well prepared presentations, sat on panels or answered questions in a casual format. Represented were the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (Deputy Assistant Secretary Bob Newberry); Joint Prisoner of War/ Mia Accounting Command (Maj Gen Stephen Tom, USAR, JPAC Commander); JPACs Central Identification Laboratory (Dr. Tom Holland, Scientific Director, and Dr. Bob Mann, Director, Forensic Science Academy); Defense Intelligence Agency (BG Robert Carr, USA, Director of Operations); US-Russia Joint Commission (Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss, Ga.), and many more at the field and diplomatic levels. Several attendees weighed in on issues, ranging from the somber reality of dealing with a dwindling DoD budget, while still “keeping the promise,” to the much more upbeat picture given by JPACs Central Identification Lab of strides made in all aspects of its operations. Read more