Recognize 74 forgotten heroes of the Vietnam War.

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                       The intent of this petition is to rectify the omission of the names of the 74 sailors who do not appear on the Vietnam Wall. These sailors were lost at sea while returning from the Phillapines aboard the Frank E. Evans after the trip there to rearm and return to battle.

                         While underway the Evans was cut in half. The forward portion of the vessel sunk in three minutes, taking with it the 74 sailors. 

                         These heroes have never been recognized , and the event has been erased from the history of the war.

                         It is a  disservice to the surviving families and shipmates that there has been no closure to this tragic event.

                         Below is an account of the ship's service record which we feel gives merit to this request.

                         Please consider recognizing these unsung heros buy adding their names to the Vietnam Memorial and correcting this injustice.

 

                                    USS FRANK E. EVANS - DD 754
                                        Submitted by:  Joe Hoffman
                                        Seaman Gunnersmate -1967
                                                   June 15, 2016


The USS Frank E. Evans was a 376 ft Sumner Class destroyer warship that was involved in more than 24 years of service seeing action in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. The ship was named after a World War I, United States Marine Corps General. The Evans, with its, crew of 278 men, was the only, major warship lost in the Vietnam War. Seventy-four men were killed and more than 199 were rescued from the South China Sea. Only one sailor's body was recovered, and 73 men went down with their ship.

During World War II, the Evans survived Kamikaze attacks, and was involved in the rescue of American prisoners of war in China. In Korea, the Evans saved downed pilots who were adrift in the ocean, and she destroyed 11 Chinese and North Korean shore artillery batteries. The Evans was hit by enemy fire 30 times.

A total of 144 United States Navy destroyers were in operation during the Vietnam War. Many served in South Vietnamese waters as artillery fire support for troops of the United States, the Republic of Vietnam and the Republic of Korea, and in coastal maritime weapons interdiction patrols. While assigned in North Vietnamese waters, destroyers served as naval artillery, in Soviet anti-submarine patrols, in "plane guard" to rescue land and sea based pilots from the ocean, and in carrier protective screens during bombing missions of North Vietnam. The Evans was attached to the 7th fleet from 1965 through June 3, 1969.

In May of 1969, the Evans was ordered to provide Naval gunfire support in "Operation Daring Rebel", which was a large amphibious landing invasion of the Barrier Island off of the coast of Da Nang, South Vietnam. Four thousand US Marines, US Army, South Korean Marines and South Vietnamese forces participated in this action. US Navy Destroyers, Swift Boats and Coast Guard Cutters provided gunfire support. During the ten- day period of this search and destroy invasion, the Evans fired 2,000 artillery rounds on 75 targets at North Vietnamese bunkers, artillery batteries and supply centers. The Evans had three twin 5in. .38 Cal. gun mounts that fired 54 pound projectiles. An experienced gun crew could fire 15 projectiles per minute.

After exhausting its ordinance, the Evans sailed to the Philippine Islands to rearm with a "full war allowance" of munitions with orders to return to the combat zone in Vietnamese waters. The Evans did rearm, but prior to returning to the gun-line, she was ordered to participate in a South East Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO) operation that involved 40 warships from 7 nations. One of the objectives of this operation was to impress North Vietnamese negotiators, regarding Allied Naval Power during peace talks During these maneuvers on June 3, 1969, while the Australian Aircraft Carrier, HMAS Melbourne was positioning to launch jet aircraft in the black night, a collision occurred between the Melbourne and the Evans at 3:15am, and the Evans was cut in half at mid -ships, killing 74 of her sailors.

Since this SEATO show of force operation, named "Sea Spirit", occurred 110 nautical miles outside of a line of demarcation that was created by the Department of Defense in the South China Sea for combat pay and income tax purposes, the US Navy declared that the Evans was not in the war zone at the time of the collision, and that her causalities were not war related. It is important to note that the Evans was in the combat zone before and during Operation Daring Rebel (May 5-May 20), received the Vietnam Service Medal Unit Citation relating to Daring Rebel on June 2, 1969, only hours before the collision, and rearmed at Subic Bay in the Philippines with a "full war compliment" of 54 pound projectiles and other associated munitions. The Evans and all of the destroyers in her squadron had orders to return to the combat zone, after the SEATO operation had concluded.

The Evans' collision ended only 14 days after the battle of Hamburger Hill (May 10-May 20), in which Army, Marine Corps and South Vietnamese troops engaged North Vietnamese forces. Seventy-two soldiers, mostly from the US Army, 101st Airborne Division, were killed and 372 were wounded. The military losses at Hamburger Hill became highly political and led to debates in Congress. It appears that President Richard Nixon and the State Department would have been put in a weakened negioting position with the North Vietnamese, if the United States acknowledged the loss of a major warship and 74 sailors, combined with the causalities at Hamburger Hill. Peace talks were scheduled to begin between Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and North Vietnamese negotiator, Le Duc Tho, in August of 1969 only weeks after the loss of the Evans. Officials in the Navy Department attempted to literally "distance" this tragedy and the loss of the American sailors from the war. Statements were falsely released by our government that the collision occurred near the Island of Borneo. At the time of the collision, the forward section of the Evans sunk within minutes taking 73 trapped sailors thousands of feet to the ocean floor, but the aft section remained afloat. Even though the closest land mass was Vietnam, a decision was made to tow the Evans's aft section to the Philippines removing the ship, and its true story further away in the minds of the American public from the War. On October 10, 1969, the Evans was bombarded with gunfire and sunk in an honor afforded to warships by other US Navy warships. By taking the Evans to Subic Bay instead of the significantly closer Vietnam, it appears that every attempt was made to remove the Evans from the Vietnam War. Our government was willing to abandon its sailors and the truth, for whatever small benefit that it could gain in the peace talks.

Based on the actions and decisions of the White House, the Department of Defense and the Department of the Navy, the names of the "74" sailors of the USS Frank E. Evans are not engraved on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, DC. Of the 58,220 names that are engraved on the Wall... 9,107 of our servicemen that were killed in Vietnam, died from non- hostile and/or accidental actions. The names of these 9,107 servicemen are rightfully engraved on the WALL, but the "LOST 74" did not receive such an honor from their nation. During World War II, America suffered 405,399 military deaths. Of this number, 113,842 or 28% were non-hostile and/or accidental deaths. These men are all honored as World War II military causalities, and their names are engraved and recorded appropriately in the history of our country.

In November of 1982, the "WALL" was unveiled and thousands paid tribute to our fallen Vietnam veterans by seeing their names in the reflective black granite. In this initial contingent of Americans were the families of the 74 sailors from the USS Frank E. Evans, DD 754. The families travelled to Washington, DC to see the symbol that our country erected to honor their fallen sons, who died in a war 13 years before... in a part of the world so far away. To their disbelief, not one name of the Evans lost men was engraved on the Wall. Many initially believed that there was some mistake, but there was no mistake. Since 1967, the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy and eight United States Presidents have not challenged the decision that the sailors of the Evans, do not qualify to be included with the other 58,000 military servicemen, who died as a result of the Vietnam War. To this day, the families were never told by our government of how or why it was determined decades ago that these combat sailors, who were their beloved sons, did not qualify to be remembered and honored with the other men, who died in this war. In 1982, there were many mothers of the LOST 74 who were still alive. Now there are only a few remaining. They wonder if they will live to see the day when our country... rights the, politically - motivated wrongful actions of our government that began on June 3, 1969.

This essay is submitted by Joe Hoffman, who served in Vietnam operations in 1967, as a crewman aboard the USS Frank E. Evans as a Seaman Gunnersmate. He can be reached at wojudo@hotmail.com or at 412-522-9831. The main research source documents of this essay is the award - winning and acclaimed book: AMERICAN BOYS: THE TRUE STORY OF THE LOST 74 OF THE VIETNAM WAR by Louise Esola, and the 5th Edition of: THE 278 MEN OF USS FRANK E. EVANS (DD754), 3 JUNE 1969 BY Frank Jablonski.



 

 



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