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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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Posts Tagged ‘Ashton Carter’

MIA ACCOUNTING AGENCY ROLLOUT – DoD NAMES INTERIM LEADERSHIP

Thursday, January 15, 2015 @ 05:01 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

 DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE MIA AGENCY LEADERSHIP

Rear Adm. Edward Franken has been named as  interim director of the new DoD MIA accounting agency

Rear Adm. Michael Franken has been selected as interim director of the new DoD MIA accounting agency

JPAC Commander Maj Gen Kelly McKeague has been selected to serve as interim deputy director of the new DoD MIA agency.!

Maj Gen Kelly McKeague has been selected as interim deputy director of the new DoD MIA agency.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel made good on his promise to stand-up the new Department of Defense agency now charged with accounting for our Missing-in-Action service members and personnel dating back to WWII. The soft rollout came Friday, January 9, 2015,  leaving no doubt that the agency’s interim leadership would be in place before Hagel’s departure from office; however, it was made clear that the overall agency would continue to evolve throughout the year.

REAR ADM. MICHAEL FRANKEN

Hagel hand-picked Rear Adm. Michael Franken to serve as the agency’s interim director, describing Franken in a statement as a “highly qualified leader who has a strong operational and policy background.” A native of Nebraska with a US Navy career spanning nearly three decades, Franken has accrued impressive credentials, serving in high level positions, including commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and vice director for strategy, plans, and policy at U.S. Central Command. After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Franken helped establish “Deep Blue,” the Navy’s operational think tank that deals with classified missions.

Although Franken’s resume covers many leadership tours aboard ship and ashore, MIA recovery efforts will present a completely new challenge. I was impressed with his written statement to reporters: “I have much to learn,” said Franken, who will undoubtedly get up to speed quickly.

MAJ GEN KELLY MC KEAGUE

Hagel also named Maj Gen Kelly McKeague, USAF, to serve as deputy director, which I believe was an excellent choice because of McKeague’s familiarity with the MIA community and operations, which is likely to be a plus for Franken as he learns the ropes.

McKeague’s 30-year military career began in Georgia after graduating from Georgia Institute of Technology with a BS in Engineering. He spent a decade as a civil engineering officer with multiple assignments at base, major command and US Air Force Headquarters. By 1995, McKeague focused on the National Guard, serving in a number of leadership positions for 20 years, based primarily on Capitol Hill or the greater D.C. area.

In October 2012, McKeague headed for his home state of Hawaii, after being named Commander of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) – the controversial military command, now absorbed into the new agency, along with the Defense Prisoner of War, Missing Personnel Office (DPMO).

Shortly after McKeague’s JPAC tour began at Hickam AFB in Honolulu, he was summoned to Capitol Hill, only this time it was not a career maker but a potential career breaker. McKeague faced a Congressional grilling in which the newcomer was expected to account for JPACs perceived shortcomings that had been brewing well before his arrival, focusing namely on JPACs Central Identification Laboratory. McKeague held his own, earning the respect of many MIA families, including mine, for his compassion and ability to keep the mission going during tough times. Obviously this assessment did not go unnoticed by the agency’s leadership selection team.

Army Lt. Gen. Michael Linnington, military deputy to the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, will be the agency’s senior adviser to Christine Wormuth, undersecretary of defense for policy. Wormuth’s office will oversee the agency.

Preparing to depart office as soon as the Senate approves Ashton Carter’s appointment as the next Secretary of Defense, Hagel is using his final days to tie up loose ends and can now put a check next to the MIA agency block.

Although considered an excellent choice to serve as the next head of the DoD, Carter will have a lot on his plate and be grateful for the roll-out of the new agency, since Hagel knows only too well that his successor will need to be ready on Day One to expect the unexpected in his new job.