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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 ‘Vietnam Crash Site’ Category


Thursday, January 20, 2011 @ 08:01 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

Ron created a three-dimensional clay model of Jerry's crash site so that Elaine could better visualize the overall event and location (click to enlarge photo).

Ron’s and my recent visit to JPAC HQ in Hawaii gave me an opportunity to learn more about the organization that has become a major part of my life in the past few years, as well as to regroup on Jerry’s case. Well in advance of our visit, Ron made an appointment with Johnie Webb, Deputy to the Commander for Public Relations and Legal Affairs, and we lucked out with our timing and caught him at Hickam AFB where JPAC is located. We had an excellent visit that included a tour of the facility and a casual discussion about JPACs mission of recovering and identifying the remains of MIAs like Jerry and Al. As most of my blog followers know, our family has strongly supported JPAC, now under the Command of Maj Gen Stephen Tom, USAR, reporting to the Pacific Command (PACOM). We are grateful to have our active duty military leading the effort to recover our loved ones, since Jerry, Al and thousands of others gave their lives in support of our country.

Although we didn’t focus solely on Jerry’s case, I was able to fill in some of the post excavation blanks. Here is an update.

Jerry’s and Al’s excavation in August 2010 went as expected, meaning that no remains were found, but the team left with a lot of evidence that proved they were in the right place—a very important point, considering the debris field of an F4 crash!
Excavations of jet crashes often necessitate that teams leave these sites open if warranted by compelling evidence. This means that they intend to return at a later date and continue their work, which is why JPAC did not close Jerry’s and Al’s site in 2010.
When a site is left open, JPAC must make a determination as to the criticality of returning sooner or later. Normally, this determination is based on a number of criteria, not the least of which is concern about geographic location. Today, most of JPACs excavations in Vietnam are the toughest, involving downed aircraft in the Central Highlands, which is where the Que Sons are located. Home to a lot of Marines and soldiers during the war, I am certain most remember this dangerous area. Although it’s no longer a battlefield, the Que Sons are plagued with hellish monsoon rains, rugged landscape with crusted clay soil, impregnated with sharp rocks and triple canopy that used to hide enemy-controlled caves with 50 cal machine guns! But most destructive is the viral-like acidic soil that feeds on our loved ones remains and everything else–time is running out in Vietnam. Read more

Brown University Celebrates Veterans Day

Friday, November 12, 2010 @ 10:11 AM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

Chaney Harrison ’11, staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, was one of the speakers at Thursday’s Veterans Day ceremony. Photo by Freddy Lu / Herald

Margaret Yi
Staff Writer
Published: Friday, November 12, 2010

U.S. Senators and Brown Community Honor Vets in Annual Ceremony

Veterans, political figures and members of the Brown and Rhode Island communities gathered on Lincoln Field yesterday under the bright noon sun to honor those who served and are currently serving in the armed forces.

This annual Veterans Day ceremony, organized by the Student Veterans Society and sponsored by the Offices of Campus Life and the Dean of the College, featured speeches and appearances by students, administrators and guests, including U.S. Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I. and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.
The ceremony began at 12:30 p.m., with the Providence College Patriot Battalion Honor Guard leading participants from the flagpole on the Main Green down to Lincoln Field, near Soldier’s Arch.

Provost David Kertzer ’69 P’95 P’98 began the ceremony by the thanking the speakers, the guests present and all those who died in service. He then introduced the Chaplain of the University, Reverend Janet Cooper Nelson, who led all those present in a prayer, in which she thanked all those who “gave their lives and hearts” in service of their “beloved nation.” Read more