The men of the Frank E. Evans

Frank Perkins, a U.S. Navy veteran, was wearing a dark blue navy hat with the name USS Frank E. Evans embossed on it. 

I asked, "Are you a Navy veteran?"  

"Yes," he said. 

"Is that the name of the ship you served on?" 

"Yes," he remarked, "I am one of the survivors."  

"What?"  I said with surprise.  

"My ship was sliced in half by an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War," 

Mr. Perkins solemnly explained to me.  There were 74 American sailors who died in a little-known tragic accident that happened during a war training exercise off Vietnam in 1969.  During night maneuvers including several ships and no lights on, a wrong turn was made that resulted in the USS Evans getting a broadside hit from an Australian aircraft carrier. The Evans was cut in half.

The bow of the Evans is reported to have sunk in two minutes with 74 of her crew members being killed.

Incredibly, the stern somehow stayed afloat and saved the lives of the rest of the crew.

The stern section was later towed to Subic Bay in the Philippines and eventually sunk as a training target.

Perkins said the survivors of the USS Evans have been trying "for years" to have the names of the "lost sailors" from the Evans placed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.  But the Pentagon has refused, citing the accident occurred outside of the arbitrary "war zone" area.

He told me the veterans of the USS Evans Association have recently been able to get a bill in the Senate.  The USS Frank E. Evans Act  (S.849) is titled as  "A bill to provide for the inclusion on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall of the names of the lost crew members of the U.S.S. Frank E. Evans killed on June 3, 1969." Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND)  introduced S.849 on March 14, 2019.

There are currently 15 cosponsors of the bill.

The USS Frank E. Evans Association  website has all of the names and pictures and a short bio of each of the 74 lost sailors.  It is heartbreaking to view these pictures as many of them are only 18 or 19 years old. 

Three brothers, the Sage brothers, had requested to serve together on the EvansSeamen Gary (22), Gregory (21) and Keith (19) all perished in the accident.  The brothers were honored in their hometown of Niobrara, Nebraska with a memorial plaque.

On the plaque it states: "This tragedy was perhaps the greatest single loss suffered by any Nebraska family of the many who have contributed their sons to the service of the Nation."  The governor of Nebraska eulogized the Sage brothers on June 11, 1969.

"Every generation of Americans has answered the call to the colors... so it was with the Sage brothers who were serving in the finest tradition of the American fighting man. In the truest sense, they gave up their lives that we might continue to enjoy the fruits of freedom..." 

Another sad chapter of this tragedy was that a father and son were serving together on the Evans.  The father, Lawrence Reilly, Sr. survived the accident but his son, Lawrence Reilly, Jr., died.  The AP reported last year that retired Master Chief Lawrence Reilly, Sr. passed away and had fought with the Pentagon for years to have the Evans’ lost sailors names placed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

Reilly's surviving daughter Oda, remarked, "We will not stop fighting" to have their names put on the wall.

I believe President Trump, as commander-in-chief of our military, should order the names of the 74 sailors who perished serving on active duty in the Vietnam War on the USS Frank E. Evans inscribed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

Our country has a duty to honor them for sacrificing their lives for us.

They are not, and will never be, "lost sailors."

The writer is a US Air Force veteran and the son of a decorated US Air Force combat veteran.

Frank Perkins, a U.S. Navy veteran, was wearing a dark blue navy hat with the name USS Frank E. Evans embossed on it. 

I asked, "Are you a Navy veteran?"  

"Yes," he said. 

"Is that the name of the ship you served on?" 

"Yes," he remarked, "I am one of the survivors."  

"What?"  I said with surprise.  

"My ship was sliced in half by an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War," 

Mr. Perkins solemnly explained to me.  There were 74 American sailors who died in a little-known tragic accident that happened during a war training exercise off Vietnam in 1969.  During night maneuvers including several ships and no lights on, a wrong turn was made that resulted in the USS Evans getting a broadside hit from an Australian aircraft carrier. The Evans was cut in half.

The bow of the Evans is reported to have sunk in two minutes with 74 of her crew members being killed.

Incredibly, the stern somehow stayed afloat and saved the lives of the rest of the crew.

The stern section was later towed to Subic Bay in the Philippines and eventually sunk as a training target.

Perkins said the survivors of the USS Evans have been trying "for years" to have the names of the "lost sailors" from the Evans placed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.  But the Pentagon has refused, citing the accident occurred outside of the arbitrary "war zone" area.

He told me the veterans of the USS Evans Association have recently been able to get a bill in the Senate.  The USS Frank E. Evans Act  (S.849) is titled as  "A bill to provide for the inclusion on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall of the names of the lost crew members of the U.S.S. Frank E. Evans killed on June 3, 1969." Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND)  introduced S.849 on March 14, 2019.

There are currently 15 cosponsors of the bill.

The USS Frank E. Evans Association  website has all of the names and pictures and a short bio of each of the 74 lost sailors.  It is heartbreaking to view these pictures as many of them are only 18 or 19 years old. 

Three brothers, the Sage brothers, had requested to serve together on the EvansSeamen Gary (22), Gregory (21) and Keith (19) all perished in the accident.  The brothers were honored in their hometown of Niobrara, Nebraska with a memorial plaque.

On the plaque it states: "This tragedy was perhaps the greatest single loss suffered by any Nebraska family of the many who have contributed their sons to the service of the Nation."  The governor of Nebraska eulogized the Sage brothers on June 11, 1969.

"Every generation of Americans has answered the call to the colors... so it was with the Sage brothers who were serving in the finest tradition of the American fighting man. In the truest sense, they gave up their lives that we might continue to enjoy the fruits of freedom..." 

Another sad chapter of this tragedy was that a father and son were serving together on the Evans.  The father, Lawrence Reilly, Sr. survived the accident but his son, Lawrence Reilly, Jr., died.  The AP reported last year that retired Master Chief Lawrence Reilly, Sr. passed away and had fought with the Pentagon for years to have the Evans’ lost sailors names placed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

Reilly's surviving daughter Oda, remarked, "We will not stop fighting" to have their names put on the wall.

I believe President Trump, as commander-in-chief of our military, should order the names of the 74 sailors who perished serving on active duty in the Vietnam War on the USS Frank E. Evans inscribed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

Our country has a duty to honor them for sacrificing their lives for us.

They are not, and will never be, "lost sailors."

The writer is a US Air Force veteran and the son of a decorated US Air Force combat veteran.