Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command Now on the Wreckage Site of WWII Pilot Lt. Col. Jack Zimmerman's Plane

Lt. Col Jack Zimmerman

More than three years ago, I wrote about Fremont, Ohio native, Lt. Col. Jack Zimmerman, legendary pilot, who was instrumental in developing America's commercial aviation.  Senior pilot at TWA, Zimmerman flew the first of TWA’s fleet of DC-3s into New York City’s LaGuardia Field. A year later, Jack Zimmerman flew the last leg of the West-East inaugural record flight of TWA’s first Boeing 307. He later set a coast-to-coast speed record for transport planes.

Joining the Army Air Corps in 1942, Zimmerman served as control officer of the North Atlantic Division of the Ferry Command. The command was responsible for transporting men, supplies, and equipment to England to support the war effort. In November 1942, after inspecting an air base, Zimmerman's seaplane foundered on take off. Fishermen from Quebec’s Longue-Pointe village rescued four of the nine men, but Jack Zimmerman was not among them.

Two months after writing the article, Parks Canada called to inform me that its team of underwater archaeologists had located Lt. Col. Zimmerman's plane. Parks Canada and Longue-Pointe villagers coordinated with the United States to protect the discovery.

Underwater Archaeologist at the wreckage site of Lt. Col. Jack Zimmerman's plane
Courtesy of Parks Canada

Parks Canada underwater archaeology technician Chriss Ludin visited the Hayes Center to examine some of Zimmerman's records that are part of the institution's collections.

Parks Canada Underwater Archaeology Technician
Chriss Ludin

The investigation was turned over to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command which conducts global search, recovery, and laboratory operations to identify unaccounted-for Americans from past conflicts in order to support the Department of Defense’s personnel accounting efforts. The organization is deploying more than 85 investigation and recovery teams on 30 missions to 11 countries this year.

Parks Canada has informed me that a 50-man recovery team with 18 underwater divers, JPAC specialists, and the crew of the U.S. Grapple have now arrived at the discovery site of Lt. Col. Zimmerman's plane.
The team plans to spend a month diving on the plane wreckage in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to potentially recover bodies and any personal items, like watches or military tags, that might have belonged to those aboard the plane.

U.S.S. Grapple

No comments: