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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 ‘Today’s Marine Corps’ Category

The Marine Corps Family — A Generational Tradition

Thursday, September 1, 2011 @ 12:09 AM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

Pictured is Elaine Zimmer Davis and Maj Gen Drew O’Donnell, aboard the Davises boat.  Elaine and husband, Ron — a Marine veteran helicopter pilot, hosted Drew and his family for an afternoon of cruising on San Diego Bay.

Drew recently took command of the Third Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.  He is one of the many Marines who embodies the generational spirit within the Corps.

The joke among Marines in the early years was that if the Marine Corps wanted you to have a wife, they would have issued you one.  Not to minimize difficult times and uncertainty that all military families face, the notion of generational careers within Marine Corps  families remains strong and wives traditionally have played an important role.

It is not uncommon to find second and third generation Marines spread throughout the world.  Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting such a Marine – Maj Gen Andrew O’Donnell, Jr., who will soon take command of the Third Marine Aircraft Wing, at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, CA.

The Change of Command ceremony for O’Donnell is slated in late September, with Maj Gen Thomas Conant, current commander of the 3D Marine Aircraft Wing, heading for Hawaii to serve as Deputy Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM).  Conant will pin on his third star and become the first Marine ever to serve as second in command of USPACOM.

My husband, Ron, met O’Donnell, who is known in the Marine Corps community as “Jr.” but introduced as “Drew,” a couple of years ago at a Quiet Birdman (QB) meeting at the San Diego hangar.  For those who are not familiar with the QBs, it is an organization that has been around since 1921 and known for attracting a diverse membership of high time aviators, including the likes of Red Baron and Charles Lindbergh.

The QBs have several chapters throughout the U.S., called hangars, where members meet monthly at a restaurant for the sole purpose of sharing stories about flying. Typically the QBs invite noted pilots to share their experiences, too.  Addressing an audience of savvy pilots, a guest speaker traditionally has topnotch flying credentials.  A helicopter pilot, named Marine Corps Aviator of the Year in 2000, Drew did not disappoint the QB crew when he spoke of today’s Marine Corps flight program.   Read more