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

Posts Tagged ‘MIA Families’

 

 QUEEN ELIZABETH PRESENTS BRITISH PARATROOPER LANCE CORPORAL JOSHUA LEAKEY WITH THE VICTORIA CROSS

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth presents British Paratrooper Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey with the Victoria Cross, awarded for valor in combat.

Her Majesty the Queen presented British Paratrooper Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey with the Victoria Cross, awarded for valor in combat.  The formal ceremony took place April 14, 2015.  Leakey joins a very prestigious group of VC recipients, of which he is only the 15th awarded since WWII and the 5th since 1982. [First introduced in 1856 by Queen Victoria, the medal has been awarded to a total of 1358 recipients].   Said Leakey:  “It is massively humbling….  My family is very proud and happy, but the lads in the battalion know this isn’t something you seek out.  You just do what you deem necessary on the day, and anyone of them could be standing where I am today.”

Thanks to Air Commodore Nick Laird CBE, RAF (See Laird at 236th Marine Corps Birthday Ball) , I learned that British Paratrooper Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey, 27, was recently awarded (Feb. 26, 2015) the Victoria Cross (VC), which is equivalent to our Medal of Honor (MOH). Laird was proud of Leakey’s accomplishment and shared the news with my husband, Ron, and others in the states.

As with our MOH, the VC is awarded to recipients who have gone far beyond the call of duty in combat, which accurately describes Leakey’s actions when a joint force of British soldiers, paratroopers and US Marines were attacked in 2013 by approximately 20 Taliban while on patrol in Afghanistan.  And although Leakey received the VC, he reiterated that the prestige of such an honor extends to all those in his unit —  1st Battalion, the Parachute Regiment.  From my research, this Para is the best of the best, and when one of their own is honored, the message is clear — they are all VC material.

The fact that the joint patrol involved U.S. Marines from Camp Leatherneck, along with UK Army Soldiers and paratroopers from Camp Bastion, both located at that time in Kandahar, Afghanistan, was another aspect of the story that caught my attention — I always appreciate good battlefield stories about our Marines. Wounded during the patrol, but now completely recovered, was Marine Capt. Brandon Bocian, a member of the command group, to whom Leakey rendered first aid during the heat of battle. Said Bocian of Leakey’s battlefield actions: “I hadn’t met Lance Corporal Leakey prior to that day but am grateful for his actions.” Commenting on Leakey’s VC award, Bocian said he was happy to hear that Leakey was formally recognized, adding that he deserved it.

Capt Bocian, USMC, was wounded in Afghanistan,  and UK Paratrooper Lance Corp. Leakey risked his life to help evacuate Bocian.

Capt Brandon Bocian, USMC, was wounded in Afghanistan, and UK Para Lance Corporal Leakey risked his life to help evacuate Bocian, while under intense fire.

In my opinion — our troops can never have enough friends in combat, and they don’t come much better than the Brits.  Congratulations, Lance Corporal Leakey!

Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial, La Jolla, CA

Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial, La Jolla, CA


I want to thank the Mt. Soledad Memorial Ass. for inviting me to attend their 2014 Veterans Day celebration in honor of our POWs and MIAs from all past wars. It was heartwarming sitting among our POWs; I could not help thinking about the hardships they endured while serving our country. Yet, their patriotism still remains steadfast, as does their support for the return of our MIAs. For those present, especially the younger generation, I am certain it was an event that will not be forgotten.

Nov 9, 2014
U-T San Diego
By LORI WEISBURG

POW’S, MISSING IN ACTION REMEMBERED

LA JOLLA — Ask Richard Mullen about the harrowing six years he spent as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict and he’ll politely decline to reveal anything but the vaguest of details.

“I was taken to Hoa Lo — we nicknamed it the Hanoi Hilton — and I was severely beaten by the North Vietnamese,” he says almost matter-of-factly. He was 36 at the time, when the F-8 Crusader he was piloting for the U.S. Navy was shot down and he was forced to eject, landing him in a rice paddy.

Now 83, Mullen, who lives in La Jolla, said he still has residual pain from the physical abuse his captors inflicted on him.

“Your wrists are in manacles, with old fashioned screws to tighten them, and there were ropes that cut off the circulation on your arms, but I really don’t want to get into that,” he said. “It was very extreme and inhumane.”

Mullen was among some 20 POWs honored Saturday during a noon ceremony sponsored by the Mount Soledad Memorial Association, which also recognized the local families of those still missing in action.

While the association regularly holds special ceremonies each year to honor local veterans, Saturday’s event was the first specifically dedicated to POWs and those who had been declared missing in action, said association president Bruce Bailey.

The ceremony, with the towering Soledad cross and curved walls of more than 3,000 black granite veteran plaques forming the backdrop, brought together service members from multiple wars and their family members on a sunny, unseasonably warm afternoon.

Missing Man Formation Honoring Our MIA'S

Missing Man Formation Honoring Our MIA’S

The Marine Corps Recruit Depot brass quintet performed, “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” were sung, and a moving flyover by the T-34 Team of pilots, in the “missing man” formation, arrived from the west. A replica of a recently installed plaque honoring the prisoners of war and the families of missing in action from World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam was also unveiled.

A replica of the newly installed POW/MIA plaque on Mt Soledad

A replica of the newly installed POW/MIA plaque on Mt Soledad


While paying tribute to the POWs and the “isolation and deprivation” they suffered, keynote speaker Capt. Dan’l Steward also recognized the family members in attendance.

“Behind every better man and every better woman stands family,” said Steward, a former Navy SEAL and now Special Operations Subject Matter Expert to the Office of Naval Research. “Without family support, our servicemen and women would not be able, or frankly, as willing to sacrifice for the greater good. You, the families are part of the unique fabric that embodies the American willingness to fight and preserve the freedoms we have inherited and cherish.”

Elaine Zimmer Davis was the young mother of a 2-year-old son in 1969 when she learned that her husband’s F-4 Phantom had crashed while on a bombing mission to clear dense jungle in South Vietnam. Initially designated as “killed in action,” Jerry Zimmer later was reclassified as missing in action. During the last decade, Davis, long since remarried, has traveled several times to South Vietnam and visited the original crash site in hopes of “bringing Jerry home,” as she has named her blog dedicated to that quest.

For years, she said she sought to block out the memories of what happened to her late husband but more recently held out hope of possibly recovering his remains. It doesn’t appear, though, that will happen now, she said.

“We’re close to the end game here. It’s not looking really good,” said Davis, who attended the Mount Soledad ceremony. “You have to keep at it, you can’t give up. I won’t give up on helping others finding their loved ones, but if they tell me, ‘Elaine, we can’t find anything,’ I’ll be grateful they tried.”

Mullen, like many other Vietnam-era prisoners of war, relied on his religious faith and a special tap code the men all had learned in order to communicate with one another. He returned home in the spring of 1973 as part of “Operation Homecoming,” as did U.S. Navy Capt. Ernest Moore, who Mullen said was the senior commanding officer on his flight out of Hanoi.

Moore, a speaker on Saturday, reminded those attending that there are still some 1,600 Americans from the Vietnam War who are unaccounted for.

“I can only offer you to believe as I believe,” he said, “that they rest in peace and that you will some day be joined once again with them.”