Marine has devoted life to finding two fallen comrades left in Vietnam

U.S. Marine Corps veteran Edward Zimmerman is welcomed home by his grandson and fellow Marine veteran of the Vietnam War, Don Wilmot (right). Members of a U.S. government recovery team begin to search for the remains of Pfc. Anthony John (Tony) Pepper, 20, of Richmond, Virginia, and Cpl. James Mitchell Trimble, 19, of Eureka, California, in South Vietnam (left).

An aging Marine veteran of the Vietnam War has returned from the Southeast Asian country, this time having helped the US Military recover the remains of his fallen comrades.

According to the Times Leader, Vietnam veteran Ed “Zimmo” Zimmerman served with the US Marines during Vietnam, serving 13 months “boots on ground” and participating in some 26 battles between 1968-1969.

In 2014, Zimmerman led a US government Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) team into some of his old stomping grounds to locate the bodies of PFC Anthony John (Tony) Pepper, 20, and CPL James Mitchell Trimble, 19. Remembering where they had fallen after the 73-day siege at Khe Sanh in April of 1968, Zimmerman was more than happy to assist the JPAC team.

Unfortunately, the two fallen Marines were never recovered.

On Thursday, Zimmerman once again returned after going back for a second try, with search teams now excavating the site for up to 30 days in hopes of finding the two Marines.

“They want to find them as much as I do,” Zimmerman said of the search team members. “They’ll do whatever it takes.”

Having left on August 10th of this year, the 67-year-old Zimmerman had no problem pinpointing where he saw Pepper and Tremble’s bodies

Zimmerman was only nineteen years old when he was helping his unit clean up after a battle at Khe Sanh when he found the bodies of Pepper and Tremble -who were in Golf Company- laying in a ravine.

The image of the Marines haunted Zimmerman to such an extent that when he discovered the bodies were never recovered, he devoted much of his life to convincing the government to search for their remains.

Zimmerman says that finding the bodies will not only bring closure to the families, but give him peace.

“I’m still trying to filter it all,” he said. “While I was there, a lot of memories came back to me.”

Zimmerman will be notified when the bodies are found and plans to attend the burials at Arlington. The families of Pepper and Trimble have been supportive as well.

As for Zimmerman, he was sent home and was not allowed to help in the excavation.

“They wouldn’t let me dig,” he said. “I’ve done all I could. It’s up to the search team now.”

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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