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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 ‘Medal of Honor’

MARINE F-4 PHANTOM FORAY: 1-4 NOVEMBER 2012

Saturday, October 6, 2012 @ 09:10 AM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

 

 

 

 

 

POST-FORAY STORY:  www.bringingjerryhome.com/2013/02/marine-f4-phantom-foray-dj-vu/

The Marine F-4 Phantom Foray is coming to San Diego, CA, 1-4 November 2012, and the number of attendees is building as word gets out among veterans who flew this tremendously beloved supersonic jet.  The Marines of VMFA-314 (Black Knights) received the Corps’ first F-4Bs in June 1962, at MCAS El Toro, which was adjacent to Mission Viejo and sadly now closed.

But the event will be held at the Town & Country Hotel, conveniently located off Interstate 8 in Mission Valley, a short distance from the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD), about 15-20 minutes from MCAS Miramar  in the northern portion of the city and 30-40 minutes from Camp Pendleton in North County.  The Marines rule in this part of the country, so East and West Coast Marine F-4 pilots and crew will be right at home in San Diego.

Reunions are infamous for reviving – often in a spectacular way — events of historical or meaningful significance, even though the redundancy may last just a few days.  For hundreds of Marine jet pilots, the upcoming F-4 Foray is expected to place a bunch of jet jocks back in the seat – metaphorically speaking –of the aircraft that was as tough to earn the right to fly as it was to perform life or death missions in the Vietnam War and elsewhere.   If it is true that the last fighter pilot has already been born, then the Marines attending this reunion should feel proud that as former F-4  pilots and RIOs, they  are part of another very special brotherhood.

REUNION HIGHLIGHTS

The F-4 Foray will draw hundreds of former Marine pilots, RIOs, crew chiefs, mechanics, reps, families and special guests, most of whom were involved with F-4s over the years.  There will be Ready Rooms spread throughout the hotel for maximum hospitality and several outside tours to Marine-related locations.  (Visit www.afr-reg.com/F4Foray for more information).  The highlight of the three-day event is expected to be the Saturday night banquet dinner in the hotel when Commandant of the Marine Corps General James Amos speaks to his Marines, as in “once a Marine, always a Marine.”  The Commandant flew F-4s early-on in his career and is the first pilot in history to serve in his current position as Commandant.  Well liked by all who know him and respected by those who only know of him – yours truly included, the Saturday evening dinner is certain to be a big deal.

Also speaking at the banquet will be special guest John Capellupo, past President of McDonnell Aircraft, builder of 5,057 F-4 Phantom IIs, for the Navy, Air Force and Marines. Production of F-4s ended in the United States in 1979, moving to Japan’s Mitsubishi, which built 138 Phantoms with the last one off the assembly line in 1981.  Although no longer in production, the Phantom is still used in several countries worldwide, and nowadays the U.S. military uses it as a target drone.  Also, according to organizers of the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Vietnam War, the Marine Corps had more F4 Phantom squadrons – 25 to be exact – in service throughout the world during the Vietnam War than any other single type aircraft squadron before or since Vietnam – a stunning number, since Marine Corps aviation just marked its 100th Anniversary this year.   Another interesting hallmark is that the F4 was the only demonstration aircraft used concurrently by both the Navy/Marine Blue Angels (1969-74) and the Air Force Thunderbirds.

LIFE AS AN F-4 PHANTOM WIFE — BRIEFLY

The F-4 will always have a special place in my heart, since my first husband, Capt Jerry Zimmer, worked harder than words can explain to get selected to fly F-4s and was killed flying one in Vietnam.  So competitive was the Marine Corps flight school program that the number of slots for jets – never mind F-4s – in each graduating class during Jerry’s era (’67-’68) was sometimes non-existent or limited to one or two slots — timing truly was a big deal.   A number of Marines transitioning from helicopters, infantry or another MOS, went through an Air Force exchange program and some had an opportunity to get into F-4s through that channel — it is my understanding that the Air Force had more F-4s than the Navy or the Marine Corps.  My friend, retired Marine Col Jack Gagen, went through the Marine flight program but served his first Vietnam tour with the Air Force in F-4s and his second  with the Marines in VMFA-542, later going on to command F-4 squadrons at MCAS El Toro and MCAS Yuma, AZ. Read more

USMC Battle Color Ceremony at MCAS Miramar, 3rd MAW

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 09:03 AM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

The Silent Drill Platoon is a 24-man rifle unit that performs a unique precision drill exhibition. These Marines are individually selected from the Schools of Infantry to serve a two-year ceremonial tour at Marine Barracks Washington.

 

Attendees were honored by the presence of Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipents Col Bob Modrzejewski and Col. Jay Vargas, both of whom earned our nation’s highest military award for valor during the Vietnam War.

  

Maj Gen Drew & Kelly O’Donnell hosted the Battle Color Ceremony on March 8th at MCAS Miramar, home of the 3rd MAW. Maj Gen O’Donnell is Commanding General of the 3rd MAW.

 Marine Corps Air Station Miramar (MCAS Miramar), located in San Diego, CA, is home to the Third Marine Aircraft Wing (3rd MAW) and likely ranks as one of the best helicopter and fixed wing bases within the Corps, but then I’m a little prejudice!  I soon learned that MCAS Miramar is also an ideal venue for visiting groups like the Marine Corps Battle Color Detachment.

Permanently based at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C., the Battle Color Detachment embarks on a tour of the United States after finishing its annual rigorous training schedule at MCAS Yuma, Arizona, during the winter months.  The detachment kicks off its tour on the West Coast. 

The ceremonial unit includes the Marine Drum & Bugle Corps, also referred to as “The Commandant’s Own,”  the Silent Drill Platoon, and the Official Color Guard of the Marines.  This highly skilled group travels worldwide to demonstrate the discipline, professionalism and Esprit de Corps of the Marine Corps, and their performances always exceed expectations. 

My husband, Ron, and I enjoyed the great viewing opportunity, since the venue offered up-close seating for guests.  Ron sat next to Sgt Major Anthony (Tony) Spadaro, who serves as Sergeant Major of the 3rd MAW.  Sgt Major Spadaro and Maj Gen O’Donnell work closely together, so it was not surprising that Tony would be a bright, energetic guy with a sense of humor. 

Maj Gen O’Donnell is joined on the Parade Ground by Sgt Maj Anthony Spadaro with a fan and good looking future Marine. Sgt Maj Spadaro is the Sgt Maj for the 3rd MAW.

In keeping with Marine Corps tradition, Maj Gen O’Donnell conducted the Parade Review, flanked by two Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipients from the Vietnam War — retirees Col. Bob Modrzejewski and Col. Jay R. Vargas.  Col Modrzejewski received his Medal of Honor for valor during Operation Hastings, 15-18 July 1966, while Col Jay Vargas received his MOH for valor during the Battle of Dai Do, 30 April – 2 May 1968.  To read more about these heroes and others, visit the Congressional Medal of Honor Society at www.cmohs.org/.

Elaine Zimmer Davis and a member of the USMC Drum & Bugle Corps, also known as the “Commandant’s Own,” which is comprised of 79 Marine musicians, dressed in ceremonial scarlet and white uniforms. The Commandant’s Own is recognized worldwide as one of the premier musical units in our armed forces.

 When the event ended, the performers mingled with the visitors on the parade grounds and during a reception at the Officer’s Club — it was obvious that they all enjoyed MCAS Miramar’s hospitality.   This gave me an opportunity to thank several members of the Drum & Bugle Corps for performing at my first husband’s 40th Memorial Service at Arlington National Cemetery on August 20, 2009, bringing such dignity to the occasion.