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 ‘Col Alan Thoma USMC’

MARINE F-4 PHANTOM FORAY: DEJA VU

Sunday, February 10, 2013 @ 08:02 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

  

 

STORY PREVIEW: SEE BELOW FOR LINK TO FULL STORY/PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS AND DOWNLOADABLE PDF

Whenever Marine aviators, from the Vietnam War to the Gulf War, got together – whether they flew fixed wing or helicopters, the sky was the limit and pushing it was the norm, as in no guts, no glory.  As the wife of an F-4 Phantom pilot killed in combat, I witnessed the early stages of what became a life-long bond among a special subset of Marine pilots and Radar Intercept Officers (RIOs), who flew the F-4, a supersonic fighter jet with a proud 30-year Marine Corps history. 

Although their style might not be perceived as politically correct by today’s standards, these Marine aviators had an indomitable lust for life that made them and the F-4 legendary.  Undoubtedly, that can-do spirit rubbed off on some of us who lived — even for a short time — within this tight-knit, Marine Corps community.

               

 

 

 

                                                                         

In November, 2011, Maj Gen Mike “Lancer” Sullivan pushed out a thousand emails across the Internet, ultimately forming a database that best explains how the idea of organizing the first all-Marine F-4 Phantom Foray turned into reality a year later.  Several hundred Marine aviators and guests descended upon San Diego, November 1-4, 2012, and although now history, the Foray was a powerful reminder that this popular fighter jet may be gone, but the connection among the aviators who flew her is still very much alive.

This blog is about three Marines, who rekindled the camaraderie of an era when the Phantom ruled and its aviators lived up to expectations in the air and on the ground.  

The Marine Corps’ high regard for the F-4 had a lot to do with its long service and versatility — but to a group of young, cocky pilots, it was the hottest jet of the day, having already set 16 World altitude and speed records by 1962 when it arrived at the first two Marine squadrons.  Over time, the Marine Corps had 25, F-4 squadrons until production of the aircraft ended in 1992.   As a career Marine, Lancer  flew F-4s in five different squadrons, and the same applied to his long-time F-4 buddies, Col. Bob “Fox” Johnson, and Col. JP “Monk “ Monroe, who teamed up with him to help make the Foray happen.    

Middle of the action – Lancer & Fox

                                                                                               Monk & the Capellupos

Although unable to attend the first All-Marine F-4 Phantom Foray, I connected with Lancer, Fox and Monk, the three guys whose efforts brought back the era of the F-4 Phantom that so many aviators and aircraft support personnel in the Marine Corps still cherish. My thanks go to them for sharing the details of this successful, four-day event.  

Like most reunions, I know you had to be there to really appreciate the celebratory atmosphere, but interviewing these guys was a celebration in itself, as demonstrated by their enthusiasm for the Foray.  I want to thank them for remembering F-4 brothers, like Jerry & Al, whose lives were cut short in Vietnam many years ago, with a beautiful memorial service that drew over 300 Foray attendees prior to their departure. 

PLEASE CLICK ON  MARINE F-4 PHANTOM FORAY TO READ THE COMPLETE STORY.   

 

MIA RECOVERIES: STAY THE COURSE

Thursday, December 6, 2012 @ 11:12 AM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

JPAC and Vietnamese Recovery Teams are deep within Vietnam’s Que Sons, May 2012, excavating Jerry’s and Al’s crash site.  Being adept at rock climbing is almost a necessity at many of the remaining jet crash sites from the Vietnam War, especially in Laos.

Until recently I have been more opposed than supportive of the Congressional mandate in the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) dealing with missing persons from past wars.  However,  I always try to keep an open mind and must admit that this piece of legislation may end up being a gift in terms of keeping the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) moving forward on global recovery efforts of our MIAs in these uncertain times.   

Yet, understanding the nature of the accounting mission is imperative as the House Armed Services Committee and others examine the overall structure, leadership, redundancy and anything else within the accounting community that might affect the mandate’s success.  Tackling the big issues is important, but decision makers should tread carefully, because even the best intentions can turn into a nightmare when looking for ways to “work smarter” – translation:  do more with less – when juggling dollars and trying to make sense of gigantic cuts in the DoDs FY2013 budget.    

Families with MIAs still unaccounted-for hope that officials will communicate with knowledgeable sources inside the accounting command and within the National POW/MIA League of Families, especially League Chair Ann Mills-Griffiths who might not tell them what they want to hear, but rather what will work and what won’t.   This methodology will help get the job done and undoubtedly save money.

Military Control

Immersed in the accounting process, I often find myself reflecting on the Vietnam War and how proud Jerry was to be a Marine Corps jet pilot.  In letters, it was obvious that he was most excited about the missions that he felt confident helped our guys on the ground — that’s what it was all about.  Jerry was raised on a dairy farm, where helping your neighbor was in his genes – he brought that ethic with him to Vietnam, as did so many other young men who never came home.  It is right for our military to take care of Jerry and other MIAs whenever possible, and it appears that they will officially be given that role.  According to the 2013 NDAA, Section 525 will require the Secretary of Defense to ensure that there is a “continuous military command responsibility and accountability for the remains of each deceased member of the military who died outside of the United States.” 

Stay the Course

I have been a long-time advocate of JPAC, which reports to the US Pacific Command (USPACOM) and both are located in Honolulu.  JPAC oversees investigations, recoveries and identifications of all MIAs from past wars.  My support of the organization was earned after a long period of researching, writing and accompanying JPAC active duty military and civil service members (often retired military) on a couple of field operations – including a visit to Jerry’s and Al’s site — and attending regional and annual family league meetings.  Whether or not you like a particular person or think there is a better way to do something, JPAC is committed to bringing home our MIAs, and I am increasingly in awe of their accomplishments.  Everyone in JPAC spends time in the trenches, and they deserve our support. 

To be continued….