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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 MIA’ Category







Memorial Day Weekend is very special to those of us with missing loved ones still unaccounted-for from wars, such as the Vietnam War.  Despite the passage of time, families continue to keep the faith, assisting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), the US Government’s organization that oversees POW/MIA recoveries.  Often families provide important information to DPAA that can ultimately lead to the identification of a loved one’s fallen husband, son, father, brother, uncle, or grandfather. 

In terms of Vietnam War recoveries, the downside is that time is running short, because of Vietnam’s acidic soil; however, the upside is that our Government continues to pursue the remaining cases, which are the tough ones.  Families like mine, with a missing warrior in the area of the Que Son Mts. in South Vietnam,  are optimistic that our relationship with Vietnam and neighboring countries are stronger than ever.  For that reason, I am personally optimistic that DPAA can finish, to the extent possible,  this humanitarian effort to bring home the remains of my husband, Marine Capt. Jerry Zimmer; his RIO 1st Lt Al Graf; and others, bringing closure to families who still wait.  We thank DPAA and all others, of which there are many, from the bottom of our hearts for what you do.  


Reflecting on Memorial Day, June 2012, I am republishing the article I wrote, about my visit to Jerry’s Crash Site.  It will always rank as one of the major highlights in my life.  If interested in my experience, I hope you will read the following intro, and perhaps  press the link below to see the complete story.  My journey is not unlike many other families who lost loved ones in a very unpopular war.  Your interest in our journey helps keep this effort alive.  Thank you so much.


Seeing is Believing
My Visit to Jerry’s Crash Site, June 2012


Had someone told me that my first helicopter ride would be in a Russian-made MI-17, launched from Da Nang Heliport in central Vietnam, I would have thought they were crazy. Yet here I am in an MI-17 on a surreal journey in peacetime Vietnam, flying over the Que Son Mountains, where the remains of my first husband, Capt Jerry A. Zimmer – a Marine F-4 Phantom pilot shot down during the Vietnam War on Aug. 29, 1969, along with his navigator, 1st Lt Al Graf, are believed to be located, possibly with others from both sides of the battlefield in this mountainous graveyard.


In many ways, I have relived this journey in my dreams — probably a thousand times during the past 40 years, but this is reality, and I am no longer dreaming. Ironically, my foray coincides with the long 2012 Memorial Day weekend in the United States. Although not planned around the holiday – or at all — I know that every Memorial Day in future years will take me back to this experience for the rest of my life.


JPAC and Vietnamese Recovery Teams working at Jerry’s and Al’s crash site. They have not reached the tough stuff yet — the impact point will require rock climbing skills.


My visit to Jerry’s and Al’s crash site offered a rare opportunity to better understand the difficulty of finding loved one’s remains at crash sites like Jerry’s and Al’s, where the debris field is large and if remains are found, they are likely to be small. L-R: Elaine Zimmer Davis; Kristen Baker, anthropologist; Christian Stone, team leader.


If you are interested in reading the complete story and viewing more images of my visit to Jerry’s Crash Site in 2012, please click this link: 










Wednesday, February 12, 2020 @ 06:02 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis


DPAAs quarterly family meetings focus on  the issues surrounding missing loved ones, primarily from  WWII; Korean War; Cold War; and Vietnam War.  Held on January 25, 2020, in Henderson, Nevada, at the beautiful Hilton, the event attracted several  family members who live in the Western Region of the United States. 



Readers of this post might be surprised to learn that a number of family members who attend these quarterly meetings are often first-timers, namely because immediate families may be deceased or have passed the “torch” along to relatives, who want to ensure that a grandfather, uncle or another relative, who served our country , especially in WWII or the Korean War, will  “Not Be Forgotten.”  The warmth of these quarterly meetings cannot be underestimated, as apparent during the Remembrance Ceremony, in which families are offered an opportunity to say a few words about a missing loved one to others in the room. While not all choose to do so, those that do, are what makes this observance a special addition to each DPAA quarterly meeting, and can be particularly inspiring when a young man adds a few words, as seen in the image below. 

NOTE:   Although Vietnam War families also have surrogates that attend these and other meetings on their behalf, there are fewer newcomers from the Vietnam War generation at this point, in part, due to being the more recent era and, frankly, because of the negative treatment received by our heroic military from activists at home.  The Vietnam War families went to Washington, D.C. and came home with a promise of “You Are Not Forgotten,” to families with loved ones missing.  In essence that promise ultimately evolved into what we now know as the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).  

Todd Livick, Director DPAA Outreach & Communications
invited an articulate young man to share his reason
for attending the meeting. In a few words, he
 touched the hearts of many, explaining that
he came with his mom & sister to learn more about
his grandfather, who was killed in the Korean War.


DPAA Director Kelly Mc Keague, a former Air Force Major General, was hand-picked in 2015, to assume responsibilty of a global  effort, with a mission that is believed to be the largest and only of its type and/or size.  McKeague oversees an organization with approximately a staff of 600, largely based in Washington, D.C., and Hickam Air Force base in Honolulu, Hawaii — the launching departure for field operations to many — if not most — around the world.  Hickam is also home to DPAAs state-of-the-art laboratory that interfaces on some level with all facets of the recovery process.   I have visited the lab, and it is truly an amazing place and another “one of a kind” required to enable DPAA do a job that is still  mind-boggling to me. I encourage families, veterans and others to visit the lab at Hickam, but you must make reservations ahead of time. Although Hickam is home to the “The Lab,” DPAA also has a satellite lab at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.  They also work closely with the Armed Forces DNA Identification  Laboratory (AFDIL), located at Dover Air Force Base, Maryland. 


As the wife of a missing Vietnam War Marine, for whom this blog is dedicated, I can say with total honesty that I don’t believe there is another humanitarian effort that compares to DPAAs mandate to bring home the remains of our missing loved ones to the extent possible.  Field operations often involve a lot of prep work, such as clearing an area in Vietnam or Laos of UXOs (unexploded ordnance) before teams can begin to dig, hike and sift through buckets of dirt, unearthed from a crash site that has been fallow for nearly 50 years . Yet teams,composed of anthropologists; active duty military; Vietnamese; and others understand the gravity of their job and how important it is to families who pray for their loved one’s return.  Toiling in unbelievable heat, the team hopes to find remains,  a bone, a tooth or  life support gear that might belong to the pilot and/or crew who were shot down long ago.  I’ve been very fortunate to observe many interesting sights, as a professional writer over the years, but nothing compares to visiting Jerry’s crash site, thanks to an invitation, indirectly through a Vietnamese official, which is why I try to tell it like it is, and hopefully give readers an honest opinion, as witnessed through my  eyes.

This image was taken during my visit to Jerry’s crash site , June, 2012.


Please click on DPAA to go to their public website. 

Please click on FamWeb to go to DPAA’s Family website.



— My recent review of Jerry’s case, received from DPAA officials during the Henderson meeting.

— A Woman’s determination not to give up  the search for her brother

— A professional female athlete accomplishes what seems like the impossible, to honor her dad who was killed in Laos in 1972 — she was 3 yrs. old at the time.  An amazing story!