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.


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Posts Tagged ‘Vietnam veterans’


Wednesday, February 3, 2016 @ 11:02 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis
DPAA Director Mike Linnington and his team kicked off 2016 with a Regional Meeting in Los Angeles, attended by 200 MIA families, seeking information about efforts to account-for their missing family members from past wars.

DPAA Director Mike Linnington and his team kicked off 2016 with a Regional Meeting in Los Angeles for MIA family members, and by all accounts it was a success.

Momentum appears to be picking up in the search for our missing service members and personnel from past wars, and in no small way MIA families help boost the demand. On January 23, 2016, approximately 200 family members showed up at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel – a stone’s throw from LAX — for a regional meeting, organized by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), the agency responsible for achieving the fullest possible accounting of missing Americans from the Vietnam War, Korean War, Cold War and WWII. See DPAA Regional Meeting in Boston


DPAAs global accounting mission encompasses 83,000 missing personnel; however, many are believed to be unrecoverable because of the circumstances surrounding their deaths, such as going down with a ship or aircraft in deep water.  Geographically, 75% of the losses are in the Pacific.

WWII poses the biggest challenges, namely because of the sheer number of MIAs unaccounted-for, totaling 73,000.  Many of the cases are incomplete or inconclusive and lack DNA reference samples on file.  However, with DPAA having been given the official go-ahead to partner with outside organizations, WWII recoveries are expected to increase this year, especially in Europe.

While the number of unaccounted-for MIAs from the Vietnam War is relatively small at 1,624, of which approximately 539 are believed unrecoverable, DPAA is concerned about the rapid degradation of remains and will increase operations in FY 2016 that will hopefully speed up recoveries/identifications.

LCDR Michael Rancour, U.S. Navy, is a DPAA Southeast Asia Analyst, shown here describing FY 2016 Vietnam field operations. The schedule looks good -- let's hope the weather does, too.

LCDR Michael Rancour, U.S. Navy, is a DPAA Southeast Asia Analyst, shown here describing FY 2016 Vietnam field operations. The schedule looks good — let’s hope the weather does, too.

Most of the remaining cases in Vietnam involve downed aircraft in locations such as the Central Highlands, where my first husband’s F-4 was shot down.  The jungle flourishes in that area and camouflages the rugged, remote topography — as well as the crash sites, requiring special teams to investigate and excavate.  Laos will also see an increase in operations, but like Vietnam, weather is a concern. But unlike Vietnam, the Lao are the least flexible to changes.

The Korean War is not the forgotten war, thanks to families, veterans and the South Koreans, who have been sponsoring Korean visitation programs over the years for American veterans who served in Korea.  Some of the most devoted MIA families are those with loved ones unaccounted-for in North Korea, where the political challenges are the major problem, along with sorting out co-mingled remains that were returned years ago, before technology was available to accurately determine how to organize remains and make identifications.  The latter is looking very promising these days, now that technology and anthropology have things under control.

DPAAs mission may sound impossible, but like its predecessors, the agency continues to defy the odds. As an MIA family member, I am in awe of what they do.

DPAAs job is big, as is the variety of expertise required to get it done

DPAAs job is big, as is the variety of expertise required to get it done.

DPAA was prepared for the large turnout and arrived with enough staff and support personnel to demonstrate its professional approach and validate that the merger of DPMO and JPAC is working.  The outlook for FY 2016 is in the agency’s favor.

Interestingly, there were no unrealistic promises made, or even a hint of sugar-coating the challenges associated with each past war. In my opinion the biggest change was in the delivery of information. Honesty is paramount, but beyond that, there is a lot to be said for the quote, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.”


Enter DPAAs Director Mike Linnington — a one-man dynamo who is rapidly rebuilding the program, from top to bottom with style, as if he were made for the job. If you look at Linnington’s background, that may well explain his determination to restore faith in the system and get the job done, as he positions DPAA to meet the demands of the future.

Having already secured buy-in from many influential partners on Capitol Hill and beyond – Dept of State, National Security Staff, Joint Staff, Casualty Offices, Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, and more, Linnington made a point of stressing that DPAA is up to the job. “We made 48 identifications in October to December, 2015 — 200 IDs will not be a problem,” he said. Linnington’s remarks put to rest concerns about DPAAs ability to comply with the 2010 Congressional mandate calling for 200 IDs per year, which some people considered a make-or-break requirement for the agency. Applause filled the room, and with good reason.

The importance of submitting DNA samples cannot be emphasized enough. Your DNA is protected!! Best of all, it requires a swab of your mouth.

The importance of submitting DNA samples cannot be emphasized enough when it comes to identifications. Your DNA is protected!! Best of all, it simply requires a swab of your mouth.


Throughout the event families were given total access to DPAAs team, which was one of the seemingly small touches that made a huge difference in the tenor of the meeting.  I personally thought it was the best regional event I’d attended and would have no trouble complimenting Linnington and his staff, who had traveled from the D.C. area and/or Hawaii for a full day of presentations, etc.

(L)Casualty Officer Hattie Johnson welcomes families whose loved one served in the Marine Corps. Each of the Armed Services has a Casualty Office to support their respective MIA families. Casualty Officers are an important resource for families.

(L)Casualty Officer Hattie Johnson welcomes families whose loved ones served in the Marine Corps. Each of the Armed Services has a Casualty Office to support their respective MIA families. Casualty Officers are an important resource for families.

In addition to Linnington, there were several core team members who took turns at the podium, such as Rob Goeke, Communications Directorate; Jack Kull, DPAA Policy; Dr. Denise To, Forensic Anthropologist/Lab Manager; and Lt. Col Alice Briones, USAF, Director, DoD DNA Registry and others involved with break-out sessions, tailored to each wartime group.

Rob Goeke is DPAA External Communications Directorate. A retired Navy Commander, Goeke has been involved with the POW/MIA mission since 1994.

Rob Goeke is DPAA External Communications Directorate. A retired Navy Commander, Goeke has been involved with the POW/MIA mission since 1994.  He works closely with his team to provide outreach & support to MIA families.

All were experts in their respective fields, speaking in terms that most of us could understand – for me, DNA is not a cakewalk, but Briones did an excellent job, and undoubtedly everyone learned the importance of submitting a DNA sample. As a fan of field operations, especially excavations, I can say without reservation that Dr. To was as good as they come with the credentials and results to prove it.


Johnie Webb, DPAA Outreach & Communication, was responsible for the Legacy POW/MIA Lab in Thailand, well before DNA was discovered; Lt Col Alice Briones, USAF, Director, DoD DNA Registry is responsible for the current DNA efforts.

Johnie Webb, DPAA Outreach & Communications, has been involved with MIA wartime recoveries & identifications since the Vietnam War ended and scientific research began, eventually resulting in DNA, which has become a critical element in the identification of our missing service members. Lt Col Alice Briones, USAF, Director, DoD DNA Registry, uses cutting-edge, DNA technology to make identifications once thought impossible.

Dr. Denise To, DPAA Forensic Anthropologist and Laboratory Manager, has done it all. A highly respected physical anthropologist including 22 years as an archaeologist, To's work has spanned the globe -- excavating the Pyramid of the Moon, teaching a human recovery course in Bogata, Colombia, responding to Hurricane Katrina; responding to an aircraft crash in

Dr. Denise To, DPAA Forensic Anthropologist and Laboratory Manager, has done it all. A highly respected physical anthropologist including 22 years as an archaeologist, To’s work has spanned the globe — excavating the Pyramid of the Moon; teaching a human recovery course in Bogata, Colombia; responding to Hurricane Katrina; and responding to an aircraft crash in Kathmandu, Nepal — to name a few of her credits.  It will come as no surprise that To oversees all field operations and material evidence analysis for the DPAA Laboratory.


No matter how good presenters are at turning complex information into understandable presentations, it is no easy task to reach an audience of 80-90% first-time attendees, seeking information about family members lost as far back as WWII.   This dichotomy was astonishing to me, and maybe even to Linnington, as well.

“We must be getting the word out,” said Linnington, knowing that the more families DPAA can reach, the better chance he has of educating them, up close and personal, of what goes on behind the scenes — one of the best ways of avoiding misconceptions about the mission.  Perhaps equally important, Linnington is upping his own learning curve.

“Learning from you is very important,” said Linnington, speaking directly to attendees, as he moved about the huge room, with a handheld mic, sometimes showing a softer side, as in telling everyone he was a new grandfather, which was well-received, along with mentioning that he has a son currently serving in the military. We laughed when he talked about leaving his wife and daughter behind with snow shovels, during the East Coast’s horrific snowstorm. “This is a good time to be in California,” he quipped,  using a little bit of humor occasionally to lighten things up, and it worked. *For more complete information, covering all past wars  (and better photos), visit www.dpaa.mil/


Jerry’s case is still open, as is the crash site.  These are good signs and hopefully will eventually produce positive results.  I will keep everyone posted — I’m not giving up at this point.  Thanks for hanging in.  Elaine





Wednesday, November 11, 2015 @ 11:11 AM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

Aviary Photo_130914987469457130  A LABOR OF LOVE…

Reflecting on the Vietnam War is a personal journey that some veterans choose not to take.  That is, until one day, many years later, an older, wiser veteran accidentally finds compassion and beauty, where he once saw only darkness.


  L-R — Clarice M. Yentsch, President of the Waypoint Foundation & Exhibition Curator; Glenn Hoover; C. J. Berwick, friend & owner of the Fish House & Fish House Encore Restaurants, who provided the beautiful cake. (Exhibition Debut, Key Largo Community Library)

Glenn Hoover, a Vietnam War combat veteran and recipient of our nation’s 3rd highest award for valor – the Silver Star, and a group of art professionals/personal friends – were busy putting the finishing touches on his Vietnam War photo exhibition, entitled INNOCENT SOULS:  VIETNAM 1968.  The production was on schedule, ready for the following day.


The Team:  L-R — Clarice M. Yentsch, Curator; Kimmy Schryver-Edwards, Assistant Curator; Lecia Webber, friend and baker extraordinaire.  Unable to attend the debut was Producer, Anne Ritchie.

On November 8, 2015, the Key Largo, FL,  Community Library was packed with 130 visitors, who had come to view the exhibition, dedicated to my first husband, Capt. Jerry Zimmer – a casualty of the Vietnam War.   Needless to say, the team not only met their deadline but were grateful for the opportunity to invite guests  on Glenn’s special journey back in time.

By no small coincidence, the exhibition is now in full swing for Veteran’s Day, and it is getting some high profile attention in Key West.  A noted art haven, Key West is focusing today on our Vietnam veterans, as they celebrate the dedication of their Vietnam War Living Memorial.  Glenn’s team is also on site for a special showing of his work by the Key West Art and Historical Society.  They are featuring a pop-up exhibit of INNOCENT SOULS on the porch of the Historic Customs House Museum.



Key Largo Community Library was packed with 130 visitors, who had come to view the exhibition.

Beauty, as they say, is in the eyes of the beholder; however, most would probably agree that the image of the young Vietnamese girl at the beginning of this story is mystically beautiful with eyes that appear to have seen so much in so little time.  “She is the icon of the exhibit,” says Glenn, of the child, whose persona is undoubtedly woven into the exhibition’s namesake.  The image was taken in 1968 by Glenn – at the time, a 1stLt in the US Army, serving in the infantry, primarily in the III Corps area.  Some of his images were shot near Parrot’s Beak and around the Lai Khe area at the 1st Infantry’s Base Camp.

The images of the Montagnards (mountain people) were taken in II Corps when Glenn’s Battalion was attached to the Americal Division (23rd Infantry Division) for a brief operation.  “The Montagnards’ story is really terrible,” he says, adding that “many of the Special Forces have spent their lives as volunteer advocates for this persecuted minority….”

Although Glenn took hundreds of images, he packed them away for nearly a half century – to forget and go on with his life.    “I wish I would have kept in contact with some of the people, but at the time I wanted it to be part of my history and made no effort,” he says, not unlike many guys I’ve interviewed over the years.  “Now, especially looking into the eyes of the young Vietnamese kids, I wonder what happened to them,” says Glenn.



INNOCENT SOULS:  VIETNAM 1968 — Dedicated to Capt. Jerry A. Zimmer, Missing In Action/Body Not Recovered (August 29, 1969)

Glenn and Jerry were high school friends, honor students and football jocks at Vestal High School in the Triple Cities area of Upstate New York.  Even more important, the guys had a special family connection.  Glenn’s dad, Dick Hoover, was a WWII Marine, who eventually became Vestal High School’s football coach – much beloved, Coach Hoover mentored all his players, and I know for a fact that he had a lot to do with Jerry’s decision to become a Marine.  Raised on a dairy farm in the rural town of Maine, NY, Jerry used to talk about people he admired, and Coach Hoover was high on that list.

Of the 11 starting players on the Varsity, during Glenn’s and Jerry’s senior year (1961), all went on to graduate from college, which was pretty amazing during that era.  But even more amazing was that five graduated from Ivy League Schools, i.e., Glenn from Cornell and Jerry from Brown, and five went on to serve in combat roles in Vietnam.  The Vestal football stadium is named Dick Hoover Stadium for a good reason.  Crazy but true, Glenn’s brother, Jim, is head coach at Walton High School in Walton, New York, and last year won his 300th victory.  No surprise, he, too, is beloved and the Walton community showed their appreciation, naming the school’s football field, Jim Hoover Field.

I remember meeting Glenn in 1969, when he and his parents attended a small service for Jerry at the family’s dairy farm, located in a close-knit community, where everyone knew Jerry and always referred to me as “Jerry’s wife.”  My next visit to the farm was terribly hard, but my husband Ron and I drove across the country to ask Jerry’s parents for their blessing on our marriage.  Our families remained close until the Zimmers passed away in recent years.  They were special people, who loved their grandson, Craig — Jerry’s and my son, pictured above as a child, climbing the aircraft in Jerry’s arms, and as an adult kneeling at his dad’s Memorial Headstone in Arlington.

When Glenn heard that we were planning a Memorial Service for Jerry  in 2009, at Arlington National Cemetery, he flew up to D.C. from Key Largo.  Ever since then, we have stayed in touch.  More recently, Glenn told me of his exhibition and interest in dedicating it to Jerry and wanting to make sure it was okay with me.  I was honored and told him that I knew Jerry would be, too.

If the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) locates Jerry’s remains, I am certain that Glenn would be delighted to update his exhibition, announcing Jerry’s long-awaited homecoming.

NOTE:  Glenn tells me that the exhibition schedule is filling up quickly in various locations through November 2016.  I hope you will check out INNOCENT SOULS:  VIETNAM 1968 – it is a labor of love. Please visit  www.InnocentSoulsVietnam.org. &  www.facebook.com/InnocentSoulsVietnam1968.