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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NOTE:  BLOG POSTS ARE NOT UPDATED, SO INFORMATION MAY HAVE CHANGED OVER TIME.

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COMMITTED TO OUR VIETNAM WAR MIAs

Friday, January 8, 2016 @ 02:01 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis
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(L-R)  Front:  Matt & Nick Zimmer; Middle:  Alie Zimmer, granddaughter Breeze Davis, Elaine & Ron Davis; Back:  Brett Davis, Craig & Bea Zimmer.

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Newlyweds Jessica & Brett Davis with Brett’s daughter, Breeze, who makes us laugh and love her even more.

Please join our family as we pledge to help make 2016 a year of consensus among those involved in the pursuit of accounting for our MIAs from the Vietnam War.  We still have hope that Jerry’s and Al’s remains will be found one day soon.  Like so many other families, we are grateful to have the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) and others involved in the mission during these very difficult times.  We are honored by the many MIA supporters following our journey — knowing that our loved ones are not forgotten means a lot.

My New Year’s Resolution is to post more stories in 2016!   I have a good Vietnam-era war story planned for the near future,  but as always, I am humbled by the task and hope I can do it justice.

DPAA is committed to continuing efforts on behalf of our Vietnam War MIAs with no reduction in field operations planned this year.  A little more than six months since it went operational,  the agency under DPAA Director Michael Linnington’s leadership is full speed ahead.  Maj Gen Kelly McKeague, who served as DPAA’s Interim Deputy Director during the transition period, was succeeded on Sept. 22, 2015, by Brig Gen Mark Spindler, USA.

BRIG GEN Mark Splindler, USA

DPAA Deputy Director Mark Spindler, USA

Welcome Aboard

We welcome DPAA Deputy Director Spindler and look forward to supporting his efforts, of which include global analysis and investigations, search and recoveries and laboratory operations to identify unaccounted-for Americans from past conflicts.  Prior to joining DPAAs leadership team, Spindler served as the 47th Commandant of the United States Army Military Police School and Chief of the Military Police Regiment at Fort Leonard Wood, MO.   A “mo boy” who hails from St. Louis, MO, Splindler completed his undergraduate work at University of Missouri-Columbia and over time earned three advanced degrees elsewhere.

Spindler’s career also includes four overseas tours in the European Area of Operation and multiple tours of duty in the Pentagon and Military District of Washington.  His operational assignments include peace enforcement in Bosnia – Herzegovina; stability Ops in Kosovo and combat ops in Baghdad, Iraq.  Spindler has received numerous awards and  undoubtedly has the right stuff for the job. He is following in the footsteps of a man who weathered an MIA storm and never gave up on us.  Many thanks, Maj Gen McKeague, for your dedication, respect and belief in the families and the mission.

DPAA Interim Deputy Director Kelly McKeague's 34-year career with USAF ended on a high not. Maj Gen McKeague was awarded the Defense Superior Service Medal by DPAA Director Mike Linnington. for "exceptionally distinguished service." Congratulations -- what an honor.

DPAA Interim Deputy Director Kelly McKeague, ended his 34-year career with the USAF on a high note. Maj Gen McKeague was awarded the Defense Superior Service Medal by DPAA Director Mike Linnington for “exceptionally distinguished service.” Congratulations!

Please remember that  neither DPAA nor any other agency can fulfill the commitment of bringing home our loved ones without support from MIA families, veterans, military resources and humanitarian organizations — thank you.   (I will be attending  a regional  family update later this month and will follow-up with a post.)

DPAA DIRECTOR MICHAEL LINNINGTON VISITS SOUTHEAST ASIA

Monday, November 23, 2015 @ 05:11 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

Hanoi - DPAA Director Michael Linnington meets with Vietnam Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Ha Kim Ngoc during his visit to Southeast Asia. Linnington visited DPAA detachments in Bangkok, Thailand; Vientiane, Laos; and Hanoi, Vietnam, and met with senior U.S. officials in each country, as well as senior host nation counterparts. He also met with U.S. Embassy staff and Cambodian counterparts in Phnom Penh. Photo by Lee tucker

Hanoi – DPAA Director Michael Linnington meets with Vietnam Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Ha Kim Ngoc during his visit to Southeast Asia. Photo by Lee Tucker

Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Director Michael Linnington conducted his first major  tour of Southeast Asia, Oct 30 – November 12, with stop-offs in Vietnam; Laos; Thailand; and Cambodia.  As is customary, Linnington met with senior U.S. officials and their in-country counterparts, along with DPAA leadership and staff at detachments in Hanoi, Vientiane and Bangkok.

With a little less than six months at the helm, Linnington was undoubtedly eager to get into the field and see how his operation works beyond the Beltway.  As a retired Lt. General with an impressive resume, Linnington knows that there is nothing like boots-on-the-ground when it comes to assessing a situation, and that’s what prompted him to visit several excavation sites during his multi-country visit.

Observing DPAA recovery teams, working alongside their in-country counterparts, is an amazing experience for the uninitiated, but as a family member with a loved one still unaccounted-for in Vietnam, I found Linnington’s remarks especially heartwarming:  “The opportunity to get out into the field and visit with our teams and host nation partners working to account for our missing countrymen was the highlight of my trip,” said Linnington.  “The dedication and commitment of the young men and women on our recovery teams is truly inspiring.” 

Linnington went on to compliment the host countries for their assistance, saying that we couldn’t do this without them. 

VIETNAM’S REACTION

When Secretary of Defense Ash Carter selected Linnington, a retired, high level Army officer, to lead DPAA, he sent a powerful message that the U.S. was serious about the MIA issue, and this was not lost on the Vietnamese.

Following a reception for Linnington in Hanoi, November 10, the Vietnamese government released a statement in which Deputy Defense Minister Lt. Gen Nguyen Chi Vinh said that “Vietnam always gives priority to cooperation with the U.S. on the search for the remains of U.S. servicemen who went missing during the war in Vietnam.”     

The Vietnamese government was obviously pleased with Linnington’s response, saying that he thanked the government, people and war veterans for their valuable assistance in looking for and repatriating the remains of U.S. servicemen who went missing in Vietnam. 

RELATIONSHIP BUILDING

For those of us with loved ones still missing in Southeast Asia, the value of good relationships cannot be emphasized enough, so I am pleased that Linnington’s trip went well.  As I reflect on Deputy Defense Minister Vinh’s words in which he spoke of giving “priority to…the U.S. on the search for …remains,” I am reminded that our respective countries have come a long way in developing an excellent working relationship.  Nobody knows that better than families who have followed a loved one’s case for decades.  Clearly, Linnington gets it!

“I am honored to have been selected by the Secretary to lead this most important mission.  As a former soldier myself, I take very seriously the commitment that we leave no one behind,” said Linnington, also explaining that he was looking at “every opportunity to speed up this mission” and that “those we search for deserve no less, as do their families.” (View a brief bio on Linnington).

Hopefully, 2016 will be a great year for Vietnam War recoveries and identifications — 1,626 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. 

Our family is praying that the coming year will bring good news, possibly about the return of Jerry’s and Al’s remains.  Please stay connected, and I will pass along updates as they become available.