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 War’

DPAA DIRECTOR MICHAEL LINNINGTON VISITS SOUTHEAST ASIA

Monday, November 23, 2015 @ 05:11 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

Hanoi - DPAA Director Michael Linnington meets with Vietnam Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Ha Kim Ngoc during his visit to Southeast Asia. Linnington visited DPAA detachments in Bangkok, Thailand; Vientiane, Laos; and Hanoi, Vietnam, and met with senior U.S. officials in each country, as well as senior host nation counterparts. He also met with U.S. Embassy staff and Cambodian counterparts in Phnom Penh. Photo by Lee tucker

Hanoi – DPAA Director Michael Linnington meets with Vietnam Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Ha Kim Ngoc during his visit to Southeast Asia. Photo by Lee Tucker

Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Director Michael Linnington conducted his first major  tour of Southeast Asia, Oct 30 – November 12, with stop-offs in Vietnam; Laos; Thailand; and Cambodia.  As is customary, Linnington met with senior U.S. officials and their in-country counterparts, along with DPAA leadership and staff at detachments in Hanoi, Vientiane and Bangkok.

With a little less than six months at the helm, Linnington was undoubtedly eager to get into the field and see how his operation works beyond the Beltway.  As a retired Lt. General with an impressive resume, Linnington knows that there is nothing like boots-on-the-ground when it comes to assessing a situation, and that’s what prompted him to visit several excavation sites during his multi-country visit.

Observing DPAA recovery teams, working alongside their in-country counterparts, is an amazing experience for the uninitiated, but as a family member with a loved one still unaccounted-for in Vietnam, I found Linnington’s remarks especially heartwarming:  “The opportunity to get out into the field and visit with our teams and host nation partners working to account for our missing countrymen was the highlight of my trip,” said Linnington.  “The dedication and commitment of the young men and women on our recovery teams is truly inspiring.” 

Linnington went on to compliment the host countries for their assistance, saying that we couldn’t do this without them. 

VIETNAM’S REACTION

When Secretary of Defense Ash Carter selected Linnington, a retired, high level Army officer, to lead DPAA, he sent a powerful message that the U.S. was serious about the MIA issue, and this was not lost on the Vietnamese.

Following a reception for Linnington in Hanoi, November 10, the Vietnamese government released a statement in which Deputy Defense Minister Lt. Gen Nguyen Chi Vinh said that “Vietnam always gives priority to cooperation with the U.S. on the search for the remains of U.S. servicemen who went missing during the war in Vietnam.”     

The Vietnamese government was obviously pleased with Linnington’s response, saying that he thanked the government, people and war veterans for their valuable assistance in looking for and repatriating the remains of U.S. servicemen who went missing in Vietnam. 

RELATIONSHIP BUILDING

For those of us with loved ones still missing in Southeast Asia, the value of good relationships cannot be emphasized enough, so I am pleased that Linnington’s trip went well.  As I reflect on Deputy Defense Minister Vinh’s words in which he spoke of giving “priority to…the U.S. on the search for …remains,” I am reminded that our respective countries have come a long way in developing an excellent working relationship.  Nobody knows that better than families who have followed a loved one’s case for decades.  Clearly, Linnington gets it!

“I am honored to have been selected by the Secretary to lead this most important mission.  As a former soldier myself, I take very seriously the commitment that we leave no one behind,” said Linnington, also explaining that he was looking at “every opportunity to speed up this mission” and that “those we search for deserve no less, as do their families.” (View a brief bio on Linnington).

Hopefully, 2016 will be a great year for Vietnam War recoveries and identifications — 1,626 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. 

Our family is praying that the coming year will bring good news, possibly about the return of Jerry’s and Al’s remains.  Please stay connected, and I will pass along updates as they become available. 

CAPT ED GARR, USMC, (Dec.) — ED WILL BE MISSED!

Sunday, April 26, 2015 @ 11:04 PM  posted by Elaine Zimmer Davis

(L-R, 1st Row)  Tour Leaders Ed Garr, (1st),  John Powell, 5th

Row 1:  (L-R) Ed Garr in the black shirt and John Powell in the white, served as MHT tour leaders for this August 2013 group.  I was in Da Nang, where they had a stopover, and Ed invited me to join the group for dinner.  Although we had communicated by email, it was our first face-to-face meeting, and we liked each other immediately. 

It is so difficult to lose someone you care about, and Ed Garr is one of those who left behind a lot of people who cared about him, and I was one of them.   I met Ed in recent years, and we stayed in touch by email – his were the one-liner type, asking me how Jerry’s case was going and when I was returning to Vietnam. I always laughed, but when I eventually met Ed in person – in Vietnam, of course – I realized that his emails were classic Ed.  But even more important, I soon learned that Ed was a one-off, an endearing trait in my books.

Ed passed away, April 19, 2015, after suffering a stroke in March while traveling in Vietnam. He spent his final days in Ocala, Florida, where he and his wife, Ora Lee, lived for decades and raised a large family. Married 62 years, Ora Lee was the love of Ed’s life, and their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren never ventured too far away from where the family’s patriarch and matriarch began their dynasty six decades earlier.

Known as Capt. Ed Garr, 82, an enlisted Marine, who received a battlefield commission along the way, Ed served in Korea under the command of Chesty Puller and later served two tours in Vietnam. Ed was part of the now infamous Starlite Operation and eventually carved out a well-suited MOS in the security field with the Military Police.

After his retirement, Ed worked in a couple of different capacities, but eventually returned to his roots in a manner of speaking, serving as a tour guide for Military Historical Tours (MHT). With approximately 125 tours to Vietnam under his belt, Ed developed an expertise in all things related to Vietnam.

And although Ed had enough anecdotes that he could keep a crowd anchored in place, his style was to let the veterans talk about their experiences while touring in country. Ed understood that some wanted to revisit a country in transition, while others were hoping to make their own transition, as in finally seeking closure, and Ed was there to help on both accounts. Capt Ed Garr will be missed!

For an insider’s look at Ed’s world as a tour guide, please feel free to click on  In The Footsteps of Heroes   in which I focus on a few MHT tours, led by Ed and LTC John Powell, US Army, (ret).

2011 Dec Tiger Mtn one armed man

Garr often tried to assist veterans who were looking for their long-lost buddies in Vietnam, classified as MIAs.  This image depicts Ed communicating with a local villager in the Tiger Mtn area of the A Shau Valley.  He was hoping to gather information that would assist LtC Mike Sprayberry, USA, (ret), with his efforts to bring home six soldiers, who were listed as KIA/NBR, as a result of a battle, April 25, 1968, for which Sprayberry earned the coveted Medal of Honor.  Sprayberry led a daring, successful nighttime rescue of soldiers from his unit, pinned down by the North Vietnamese.  Unable to extract the KIAs, Sprayberry has spent several years, trying to finish the mission of bringing home the remains of those who didn’t make it 47 years ago.  This Memorial Day, Filmmaker Norman Lloyd’s documentary about the search, The MIAs on Tiger Mountain, has been selected to be in the G.I. Film Festival in Washington DC.  The Sprayberrys are hoping that the film will recognize Lloyd for his efforts and bring greater awareness of the Sprayberry’s efforts to find the six MIAs on Tiger Mountain. 

Please visit  http://giff15.com/movies/the-mias-on-tiger-mountain/  to see a short preview of the movie and hopefully cast your vote in support of it.