Our Mission:

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.


Vietnam Map


Posts Tagged ‘USNS Bruce C. Heezen’


Saturday, October 1, 2011 @ 06:10 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

The USNS Bowditch  team off the coast of Vietnam in 2011, supporting JPAC and its Vietnamese counterpart in the search for Vietnam War MIAs lost  over water. (JPAC photo by DOD civilian Ron Ward/Released).

What began as a nail-biter for families of MIAs still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War is fast becoming a year of celebrations, ranging from JPACs FY2012 budget approval, needed to keep recovery operations afloat in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, to its new Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii, now under construction, that should help streamline and speed up the process of identifying remains from all past wartime locations. Everyone’s blood pressure is back to normal, at least for now.

And although media attention has subsided, the biggest reason for celebration among many families with water-related losses in Vietnam was the discovery of what may have been an F4 Phantom crash site, among several site surveys conducted in waters off North Vietnam. After four decades, the U. S. Government and Vietnamese government engaged in a new spirit of cooperation, producing phenomenal results, conducting underwater surveys, aboard U.S. Navy ships.

Even though the war ended in the mid 1970s, this military-to-military effort is the first to offer renewed hope to nearly 500 families, who lost loved ones in overwater crashes during the Vietnam War. We’ve come a long way!

Ron Ward, JPACs Casualty Resolution Specialist in Hanoi, said: “Though the status of the military-to-military relationship is not within JPACs responsibility, the oceanographic survey missions are a small part of the overall bilateral military situation, which can help expand accounting in an indirect way.”

SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM (May 27, 2011) - A Vietnamese Naval Officer, left, learns about the USNS Bowditch from the ship's Captain and another crew member during an ongoing investigation off the coast of Vietnam. The USNS Bowditch is a Pathfinder Class oceanographic research ship which uses specialized sonar to survey the ocean's floor, searching for U.S. aircraft lost during the Vietnam War. (JPAC photo by DOD civilian Ron Ward/Released)

Read more

MIA RECOVERIES: Searching for Over-Water Crashes in Vietnam

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 @ 08:06 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

This photo was taken in June 2009, when the USNS Bruce C. Heezen became the first oceanographic ship to assist JPAC in its search for over-water losses in Vietnam. That event eventually led to a second mission (discussed in this blog) that resulted in the discovery of 15 possible crash sites. The leadership team for the 2009 mission included (L-R) SrCol Dao Xuan Kinh, Ambassador Nguyen Van Dao, JPACs Ron Ward, Capt Robert Reish, LTC Todd Emoto, USA.

The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) offered renewed hope to several families of MIAs lost in over-water crashes during the Vietnam War. For the second time since the war ended in the mid 1970s – the first being in 2009, JPAC and its Vietnamese counterpart embarked on a month-long investigation, May 20 to June 20, 2011, to gather information about possible aircraft wreckages off the coast of DaNang, Quang Nam, Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Tri in the South China Sea. According to crash records, there were 444 aircraft losses in the Vietnam War over water, with 247 occurring in the north and 197 in the south.

Finding aircraft that went down over water during the Vietnam War may well represent the ultimate challenge for JPAC in its humanitarian recovery efforts.

Once again, the Military Sealift Command (MSA) provided manpower, equipment, technology and transportation for the bilateral effort, using one of its six oceanographic ships, the USNS Bowditch, and a team of civilian survey experts who specialize in physical oceanography, hydrography, acoustics and geophysics. Using sonar, the Bowditch team completed 15 surveys in deep and shallow waters and found potential wreckages in most of them. However, it appears that there’s no way of determining if the anomalies picked up by the sonar were crashes or something else, unless the experts take the next step.

“The biggest conclusion we’ve come to this year is that we need to dive,” said Ron Ward, JPACs Casualty Resolution Specialist at Detachment 2, in Hanoi, during an interview with AFP – a global news agency that covers international events . Ron has 20 years of recovery experience in Vietnam and was aboard the USNS Bruce C. Heezen for the first underwater survey mission. He says that divers and/or remotely-operated submersibles will now be needed to confirm their recent findings.

Although Vietnam has been slow to loosen the reins in areas they once considered a threat to their national security, there seems to be a warming trend between our former enemy and the United States. Said Navy Rear Adm. Jonathan White, commander of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command: “The level of cooperation [Vietnam] is a great example of the strengthening relationship between our two nations.”