Our Mission:

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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Posts Tagged ‘American Legion’

DAVID’S STOCKING by JULIE KINK SPRAYBERRY

Tuesday, December 20, 2016 @ 12:12 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis
WO1 David Kink, US Army, 1-9th, Troop C. KIA August 3, 1969. He was 19. Cause of Death: UXO ground explosion brought down the LOH in which David was flying.

WO1 David Kink, US Army, 1-9th, Troop C. KIA August 3, 1969. He was 19. Cause of Death: UXO ground explosion brought down the LOH in which David was flying.

DAVID’S STOCKING

© Julie Kink

December 2005

I wasn’t looking forward to hanging David’s Christmas stocking this year. I’ve found that most of the things in life I didn’t want to do – because they remind me of people or things that aren’t here anymore – are things I really need to do.

So I lifted his stocking carefully out of its box like Mom used to do. Seeing a tiny hole in the heel, I turned it inside out to sew it. A few old, brittle scraps of wrapping paper fell out. What gift, I wondered, what year? What little thing had our parents placed there in the stocking to be found on Christmas morning – was it for David or for me?

An aunt knit woolen Christmas stockings for all three of the Kink children years before I was born. The names Paul, David, and Susan were knitted in bright red above a fuzzy white Santa face, and a pair of crossed candy canes. They were magnificent, large enough to hold an apple, an orange, a box of chocolate-covered cherries, a can of smoked oysters, and a Life Saver Sweet Storybook. I was born last, nine years after my sister, so I never got my own knitted stocking, but I loved the look and feel of the others. They were a special part of our Christmas.

The year that David was killed in Vietnam, Mom started filling his stocking for me. It made me feel special, sharing my big brother’s stocking like that. Even though I got everything that was inside. It was still David’s stocking, and it still needed to be hung up at Christmas.

Looking back, I think it was one of the important lessons of my eighth year: you don’t have to quit hanging a person’s Christmas stocking, just because they’re not there to see it. For so many years, I watched Mom brush away tears as she would lift it so carefully out of its box, and pack it away just as carefully after Christmas. We eventually sent Paul’s stocking off to him in Montana, and Susan’s stocking off to her in South Carolina. Mom went into the nursing home, but David’s stocking stayed right here with me. It has never missed a Christmas.

And now, Mom is gone. And now, I am lifting David’s stocking out of its box and wiping away a few tears, just like Mom used to do.

This year, I shed tears for people I don’t even know, the more than 2,000 families who will wonder if they should hang a Christmas stocking this year. The families of the young men and women who, like my own brother in 1969, went off to fight a war and never came back.

The families wondering if you ever stop thinking about them.

You don’t.

I wish to the core of my soul that there was something I could do or say that would let them know they aren’t alone. What I really wish, is that the war would end, and there wouldn’t have to be any more families like mine, left wondering.

What do you do with a person’s Christmas stocking after they’re gone?

You carefully take it out of its box, you hang it up, you fill it with treats or gifts. Or just memories . . . and then, you go on.

 A sensitive, beautifully-written Christmas story by Julie Kink Sprayberry, published 11 years ago in memory of the brother she barely new — David — who was killed in Vietnam when an UXO detonated and took down his LOH after he’d been in country one month.  Like so many who lost loved ones long ago in Vietnam, Julie’s story will resonate in its simplicity but very special message.  My thanks to Julie for allowing me to publish her story, as we celebrate another Christmas day without David, Jerry and so many others who died while serving our country. 

 

Preview 2016 Vietnam War League Meeting & DoD Briefing

Monday, June 13, 2016 @ 12:06 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

 

A discussion between League Chair Ann Mills-Griffiths & DPAA Director Michael Linnington during the 2015 annual Vietnam War meeting for MIA families.

League Chair Ann Mills-Griffiths & DPAA Director Michael Linnington communicating during the 2015 annual Vietnam War meeting for MIA families.


ALERT: MICHAEL LINNINGTON’S DEPARTURE

The joint meeting of the 2016 National League of Families (aka, League) and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) is an important annual event, held in D.C., and combined to allow Vietnam War MIA families an opportunity to be among others coping with the loss of a loved one in Southeast Asia, while still seeking answers that can only come through official US Government channels.

The three-day event, June 22 – 25, 2016,* is tightly scheduled with League Chair Ann Mills-Griffiths presiding for the 47th Annual League event! All presentations delivered by DPAA leadership and staff, League officials and special guests are timed for efficiency, and Mills-Griffiths  keeps the program on a roll.

Every time I attend the annual meeting, I am amazed at the quality of the presentations and number of experts in attendance.  I always leave with a feeling that I’ve learned something new or gained a better understanding of something I had never been able to truly grasp in the past.

NOTE: The initial schedule made available to MIA families may eventually include one or two changes related to a particular speaker and/or a presenter’s topic, but below is a partial list of the 2016 presentation agenda:

Mills-Griffiths, Assessing the Reorganization of Today;

DPAA Director Michael Linnington, Today’s Mission, Priority & Objectives;

DPAA Director Strategic Initiatives, Dr. Thomas Holland, Strategic Partnerships Update;

Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, Post-Vietnam Trip (Tentative);

DPAA Director Asia Pacific Directorate Col Michael Gann, USMC, Asia & Pacific Regional Approach;

Commander Navy Expeditionary Command RADM Frank Morneau, USN, Maximizing Capabilities to Expand the Accounting Process;

Others on the list are people that most of us are familiar with, such as Richard Childress, Senior League Policy Advisor; General Robert “Doc” Foglesong, USAF, (Ret.), US-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs; Johnie Webb, DPAA Deputy Director Outreach & Communications; Bob Wallace, Executive Director & Assistant Adjutant General, VFW; and many more who bring so much value to this annual event.

Also, a special welcome to two members of Director Linnington’s leadership team attending and/or presenting for the first time at the annual event: BG Mark Spindler, USA, DPAA Deputy Director, who will discuss the agency’s Operational Perspective Worldwide; and Fern Sumpter Winbush, DPAA Principal Staff Director, who will focus on the agency’s role in facilitating Family and Veteran Engagement.  I look forward to meeting them and hope they enjoy the event.

*If you are an MIA family member and have not registered but would like to attend the Government Briefing ONLY, please contact your casualty officer. Now that the deadline for registering has closed, I don’t know if there are exceptions; however, I do know that credentials are required of all attendees.

HOW DOES THE ANNUAL MEETING DIFFER FROM REGIONAL MEETINGS?

Anyone who has read my posts about the Regional DPAA meetings knows of my respect for these events held throughout the country. However, it is tough to compare the annual meeting to the regionals, because the annual event is dedicated to issues involving Vietnam War losses and recoveries, while the regionals cover all pertinent past wars.

Although some of the DoD experts at the Vietnam War annual meeting also participate in the one for the Korean War and Cold War, the majority of those attending our meeting have a long history as analysts, historians and investigators in Southeast Asia. This is very important, because Vietnam War families have been involved with efforts to find loved ones for years, and many are highly knowledgeable about the ins and outs of their loved one’s case and all the nuts and bolts in the recovery system, so it helps to have government attendees fluent, as well.

Jay Veith, League Intelligence & Research Advisor will discuss Archival Research & Investigation Potential at the 2016 meeting.

Jay Veith, League Intelligence & Research Advisor, will discuss Archival Research & Investigation Potential at the 2016 meeting.

The expertise that DoD participants bring is especially apparent during the Department of Defense Q&A session, held on the last official day of the meeting. Families are given an opportunity to ask questions, and some are very penetrating, historically and otherwise. The DoD is adept at answering most questions, and they do a great job.  Mills-Griffiths is on deck ensuring that  questions are not personal, as in discussing a particular family member’s case, and that answers are technically correct – Ann is legendary for her unbelievable recall of events dating back decades.

I will cover the 2016 event in a future blog and showcase many of the people in attendance. Please stay connected.