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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 ‘Us-Russia Joint Commission on POW-MIA afairs’

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

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A view of attendees at the closing dinner for the 2010 meeting of the National League of POW/MIA Families in Washington, D.C.

The National League of POW/ MIA Families with loved ones still unaccounted-for in Southeast Asia will gather in Washington, D.C., July 21-24, for their annual meeting with recovery, military and government officials. Although the League has been meeting annually for four decades, I attended my first meeting last year and was impressed with the level of discussions, as well as the knowledge and devotion of families who have been involved with Vietnam War efforts from the beginning.

My focus has been on Vietnam where Jerry was killed in 1969; basically, the huge number of MIAs still unaccounted-for throughout the world has necessitated that families become personally involved with a loved one’s case, whether lost in Vietnam, WWII or Korea. Thanks to the leadership efforts of DPMO, JPAC and the National League of POW/MIA Families, we all have incredible communication tools and opportunities available to us nowadays, making it easy to interface one-on-one at events like the annual League meeting in D.C.

What makes this year’s meeting particularly important is the realization that MIA recovery operations are focusing more on WWII locations to comply with the mandate in the 2010 Defense Authorization Act ; therefore, I anticipate that many of the attendees will want to know specifically what impact this is having on Vietnam War recoveries. I am personally interested in several topics that are expected to be discussed, and the following questions are a few that I hope will be will be addressed at some point during the three-day meeting:

What significant changes are anticipated for Vietnam War detachments, manpower and field operations?

How many VN War identifications are being made annually from current field operations? How many from the cache of stored remains at JPACs Central Identifications Laboratory (CIL)?

Is there any new technology, unique to Vietnam War identifications?

How many MIA cases from the VN War are now believed recoverable, according to investigations and other data?

What role will unilateral operations play in Vietnam?