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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 ‘North Vietnam’

League Executive Director Ann Mills Griffiths (middle) at the 2010 annual League Meeting in Washingto, D.C.

Executive Director Ann Mills Griffiths (center) with POW/MIA families at the 2010 League Meeting in Washington, D.C.

I just finished reading the latest newsletter, published by the National League of POW/MIA Families, which is authored by Executive Director Ann Mills Griffiths, who has served in a leadership capacity for the past 33 years. Griffiths is well known among League families and probably anyone else involved with efforts to bring home our POWs and MIAs from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

I called the League in D.C., caught Ann in her office and spoke with her briefly, mentioning that I was concerned about her intentions to step aside as the League’s Executive Director on Aug. 1, 2011. Ann told me that she is hoping to stay connected, if re-elected to the League’s Board of Directors; however, Ann wants to reduce some of her 14- to 16-hour-a-day schedule. Since few people have Ann’s contacts in political circles at home and abroad, I am hoping that she will continue to serve on the League’s Board as the point person for US and foreign officials .

Although I don’t know Ann personally, except for a brief introduction at last year’s annual League meeting in Washington, DC, I have been told that she is either liked or disliked in POW/MIA circles. But after talking with mutual friends, I am convinced that personality conflicts aside, Ann plays an important role at the League’s political level. Unfortunately I’m learning that the fate of our MIAs seems to be all about politics—especially as it applies to the ones who disappeared in North Vietnam. Sadly, Ann’s brother—Navy LT JG James Mills is one of our MIAs that never came home after his aircraft was shot down in 1966 over North Vietnam. Lt JG Mills served as a Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) aboard an F4 Phantom – the same aircraft in which my first husband, Capt Jerry Zimmer, USMC, was shot down in South Vietnam. Read more

To Russia Without Love

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 @ 04:02 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

The relatively new/old Russian flag is a reminder that change is possible in this country, so maybe there is still hope that Russia will open its old military archives freely to help us locate our MIAs from past wars.

Almost four decades after the Vietnam War ended, we’re still trying to work with the Russians to learn about our MIAs left behind in Vietnam and other past wars. In 1992, the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission (USRJC) on POW/MIA affairs was established, providing an exchange of vital information about MIAs for both sides. Hope was at an all-time high with heavy-hitter U.S-Russian participants eager to engage. But the commission’s track record has not lived up to expectations, and the future does not look promising.

For the U.S., we knew the commission offered a pathway to access of Russian military archives. For Vietnam-era families this group was a godsend, since most military history buffs agree that the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) would never have succeeded in controlling the country had it not been for the Russians. Aside from providing training, planes, missiles—and a lot more—Russia is believed to have documented every aspect of the air war over North Vietnam, consisting of information about aircraft/pilots that were shot down, killed or captured and occasionally imprisoned in Russia. In the bigger picture, access to Russian military archives is vitally important to determining the fate of thousands of Americans from World War II through the end of the Cold War. Read more