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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 ‘shot down over North Vietnam’

U.S. MIA RECOVERIES: IS NOTHING SACRED ANYMORE?

Thursday, July 14, 2011 @ 06:07 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

To all families and veterans with a relative or friend that disappeared in North Vietnam during the war, you will be interested in the following editorial that was just published in the Sacramento Bee and other newspapers around the country. If I’m reading it correctly, the recently revived U.S./Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs is in trouble, and the problem is not on the Russian side. It appears that the U.S. Department of Defense may be cutting the funding for the commission.

Also, after many families and organizations repeatedly questioned the wisdom of the Congressional mandate in the 2010 Defense Authorization Act, requiring JPAC to double its identifications annually by 2015, it now appears that the DoD is having second thoughts about their promise to fund this expansion of duties; however, the law is still on the books, but there is no way that JPAC can meet its requirements, both in the field and laboratory, without additional funding — clearly this is a case of mixed messages. The DoD still has an opportunity to do the right thing. We have thousands of Marines and soldiers serving in harm’s way today — I hope we send them the right message.

As the former widow of an MIA left behind in Vietnam, I expect that we will hear more about these developments at the upcoming National League meeting in Washinton, D.C., and I will advise everyone of the situation after my return. In the meantime, please read the following Editorial. The names listed at its conclusion are respected leaders within their organizations and have worked hard on behalf of our MIAs from WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War and the Cold War.

EDITORIAL:     By VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS OF THE UNITED STATES

DOD BREAKING SACRED PROMISE WITH POW/MIA FAMILIES

President Obama is a strong supporter of our nation’s veterans, military and their families, as well as the families of almost 88,000 missing servicemen and civilians, yet some within his Administration do not share that same level of commitment.

They would instead disregard White House guidance and abandon a Presidential Commission that was created in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin — and supported by every American president since — to help determine the fates of Americans who disappeared behind the Iron Curtain. They would also recall a multiyear budget submission for the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), whose worldwide mission to recover and identify America’s fallen is stretched thin by manning constraints and laboratory space. 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