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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 ‘Hawaii’

VIETNAM WAR: POW/MIA Family League Scores a Victory

Monday, August 15, 2011 @ 05:08 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

Robert Newberry, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs, and Peter Verga, Chief of Staff for the Under Secretary for Policy, Department of Defense, at the recent meeting in Washington, D.C., of the Nat'l League of POW/MIA Families. Both men were supportive of increasing MIA recovery efforts from the Vietnam War. A recap of that meeting is below. NOTE: THERE ARE MORE PHOTOS IN THE GALLERY - SORRY FOR THE POOR QUALITY!

I’m reasonably sure that many families attending last month’s three-day meeting of the Nat’l League of POW/MIA Families in D.C. felt that they’d heard it all before, and they may well be correct – but I don’t think so, and I mean that from a positive perspective!  (Also See “Not Over ‘Til It’s Over”).

There was an outpouring of support to continue recovery efforts in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, from prominent politicians and military leaders in D.C. – Peter Verga, Chief of Staff for the Under Secretary for Policy; Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN), US-Russia Joint Commission for POW/MIA Affairs; Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, USA, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA); and Brig. Gen Richard Simcock, USMC, Principal Director, South & Southeast Asia, who spoke in strategic terms, explaining that U.S. interests were important in the Asia/Pacific region, telling everyone that our country is a Pacific Nation and that Vietnam will play an important role in shaping our policy in that region. “Our interaction needs to start somewhere. It needs to start with the military,” said Brig. Gen. Simcock, who talked of a growing friendship with the Vietnamese, both on a professional and a personal level – as in having Vietnamese to dinner at his home, saying he never thought he’d see the day. “It’s about time,” said Brig. Gen. Simcock, who also said that most people don’t know the military of today, and I agree wholeheartedly.

At some point Ann Mills-Griffiths, the League’s former Executive Director, now Chairman of the Board, made a pertinent statement: “All nations have national interests,” said Ann, whose brother’s crash site was recently found in waters off North Vietnam after 45 years. Although it has taken a long time to bring our Navy’s oceanographic survey ships into Vietnamese waters to search for MIAs like Ann’s brother, CMDR James Mills, USNR, the Vietnamese increasingly see our military as humanitarians and peacekeepers – the latter of which may have additional benefits as this rapidly developing country copes with growth pains and maritime border disputes with some of its neighbors. Read more

MIA RECOVERIES IN VIETNAM: DNA TO THE RESCUE

Friday, April 22, 2011 @ 08:04 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

Jerry's son, Craig, kneels before his father's memorial stone, during the 40th Memorial Service in Arlington Nat'l Cemetery, 8/20/2009
Jerry’s and my son, Craig, was two and a half years old when his father was killed in Vietnam. He hopes that his dad’s remains still can be found when JPAC continues excavating Jerry’s and Al’s site. If found, Craig knows that DNA will likely be a key factor in helping to identfiy the remains. (This photo was taken at Jerry’s 40th Memorial Service in Arlington Nat’l Cemetery, at the site of his father’s Memorial Stone.)

Some of the most difficult battles can ultimately produce the sweetest victories. In the case of Vietnam, it took nearly two decades after our departure in 1973, to figure out how America and Vietnam could form a partnership, beneficial to both sides. We wanted our POW/MIA issues to be resolved, since we had left behind 2,646 unaccounted-for Marines, soldiers and personnel in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and China — 90% were located in Vietnam. The Vietnamese wanted money in the form of reparations and a trade agreement, etc., with the United States. Neither side got everything it wanted, but both eventually got enough for a quasi win-win situation.

Unlike post-WWII recovery efforts (after winning), which were launched immediately following the war and resulted in the identification of more than 270,000 MIAs, the lapses in Vietnam’s post-war recovery program (after losing) required that the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) and its predecessors use every tool available in the field and in the laboratory to produce even a modest number of identifications.

The new enemy in Vietnam had no guns, but nonetheless its acidic soil, monsoon rains and scavenger culture were rapidly destroying our MIAs remains. The situation was unlike anything our government had encountered in past wars and some of those conditions may have hurt efforts in the early 1990s to locate Jerry’s and Al’s crash site. Read more