Today is Memorial Day!
It is a day when we honor the men and women who have given their lifes in service or defense of our nation in ALL WARS.
For me it is a day to remember some shipmates.
The picture above (and on my blog page) is the USS Frank E. Evans DD 754 as she appeared on the morning of 2 June, 1969 (this picture was made when I was aboard in 1963.)
For me it is also a day I especially remember and honor my shipmates who lost their lives around 3:00 a.m. on 3 June, 1969, (43 years ago in six days) when my ship, USS Frank E. Evans DD 754, was accidentally cut in half in a nighttime collision with an aircraft carrier.
The front half rolled over and went down in three minutes carrying 74 officers, chiefs and enlisted men to their eternal rest.
The morning showed this as all that was left. That is the USS Everett F Larson DD 830 on the right preparing to come alongside the aft section to secure her until the sea tug could arrive and tow her to Subic Bay, Philippines.
Below is a list of those 74 men. If you notice, there is a great many Seaman Apprentices and Firemen Apprentices listed. That is because a few weeks earlier she received a whole group of men straight from boot camp and a short leave home. They were still learning about shipboard life and their new career. And they were learning under combat conditions, too. She had been on the gun-line escorting a troop transport close into shore and providing fire support and illumination flares for the Marines just a few days earlier. And she was scheduled to go back on the gun-line a few days after the collision.
There were two Georgia boys aboard her that night. Chief Hospitalman (Corpsman) Charles Cannington of Atlanta, a true hero. When the ship was cut in half, all the electricity went out. The Chief was in the forward chief’s quarters and was the only one with a pin light. And he slept next to the ladder that went topside (the only way out as the door (not a watertight hatch) to the compartment was blocked). He stood at the bottom of the ladder with his pin light encouraging the other chiefs to get out. He didn’t make it. But most of the chiefs did.
And Chief Boatswain Mate Willie King of Thomaston! He had just made Chief and was very proud that he had. He was all smiles and an excellent teacher to the enlisted men. He made it out through the hatch but couldn’t swim. He was told to go into the water and grab anything floating. They saw him walking toward the water, but he was never seen again. It is believed he was sucked under when she went down because he didn’t swim away. His body was never found. At his family reunion last year, his sister told me that he always wanted to be in the Navy and told her, as a little boy, that he would be buried at sea. Freaky!
There were three brothers lost (the Sage’s), plus a father (Chief Reilly) saw his son (Larry) go down and my friend, Garry Hodgson, from my time on board.
The men are, by rate/rank, name and city of record:
ENS Alan Herbert Armstrong – Seattle, WA
SN James Robert Baker – Weirton, WV
YN3 Andrew James Botto – Stockton, CA
RD3 Thomas Belue Box – Athens, AL
ET3 James Franklin Bradley – Syracuse, NY
ENS Robert George Brandon – Paramount, CA
SA Harris Melvin Brown – Detroit, MI
BT2 William Daniel Brown II – Westminster, CA
HMC Charles William Cannington – Atlanta, GA
RD2 Christopher John Carlson – Ojai, CA
SN Michael Kale Clawson – Yellowstone, MT
SN Danny Victor Clute – San Jose, CA
YN3 James Richard Cmelya – Stevens Point, WI
ETN3 Larry Wayne Cool – Clifftop, WV
SN Patrick Michael Corcoran – Philadelphia, PA
SA Joe Eddy Craig – Sacramento, CA
ETR3 James Wilburn Davis – Springfield, MO
SA Leon Larry Deal – San Francisco, CA
SN James Fred Dykes III – Lancaster, OH
SA Raymond Joseph Earley – Mahanoy City, PA
GMG3 Steven Frank Espinosa – Bishop, CA
SA Stephen Don Fagan – Huntingdon, PA
SA William Donald Fields – Sacramento, CA
SA Alan Carl Flummer – Fort Lewis, WA
SA Henry Kenneth Frye – San Pedro, CA
SN Francis Joseph Garcia – San Francisco, CA
STG3 Melvin Hollman Gardner Jr. – Sothern Pines, NC
SA Donald Eugene Gearhart – Lewiston, PA
BM3 Patrick Gene Glennon – Fessenden, ND
SA Kenneth Wayne Glines – Independence, MO
SA Joe Luis Gonzales – Clovis, NM
STG3 Larry Allan Gracely – Lima, OH
SA Devere Ray Grissom Jr. – Covina, CA
SA Steven Allen Guyer – St. Joseph, MO
RD3 Terry Lee Henderson – Westfield, NY
EMC Edward Phillip Hess – Youngstown, OH
RD2 Garry Bradbury Hodgson – Beatrice, NE
SA Dennis Ralph Johnston – Anderson, IN
SA James William Kerr – Glendale, CA
BMC Willie Lee King – Thomaston, GA
RDC George Joseph Laliberte’ – Hazel Park, MI
RM2 Raymond Patrick Lebrun – St. Louis, MO
RD1 Eugene Francis Lehman – St. Paul, MN
SA Isaac Lyons Jr. – Los Angeles, CA
SA Douglas Roy Meister – Redford, MI
SA Andrew Martin Melendrez – Whittier, CA
SN Frederick Conrad Messier – Providence, RI
SA Timothy Lynn Miler – Lansing, MI
ENS John Townsend Norton Jr. – Brooklyn, NY
ENS Gregory Koichi Ogawa – San Mateo, CA
SA Anthony Michael Orlikowski – Milwaukee, WI
IC2 Linden Russell Orpurt – Chicago, IL
LTJG Dwight Scott Pattee – Holladay, UT
SA Craig Allen Pennell – Castiac, CA
SA Jerome Pickett – Chicago, IL
YN2 Earl Fredrick Preston Jr. – Gladstone, NJ
BT3 Lawrence John Reilly Jr. – Queens, NY
RD2 Victor Thomas Rikall – Butler, PA
BM2 Gary Loren Sage – Niobrara, NE
RD3 Gregory Allen Sage – Niobrara, NE
SA Kelly Jo Sage – Niobrara, NE
SA John Alan Sauvey – Marblehead, OH
BTFN Robert James Searle – Great Falls, MT
FA Gerald Wayne Smith – Bridgeview, IL
SN Thurston Perry Smith Jr. – Hillsborough, NC
STG2 John Raymond Spray – Borger, TX
LTJG Jon Kenneth Stever – Altadena, CA
SA Thomas Fred Tallon – Newport, KY
RD2 Ronald Arthur Thibodeau – La Habra, CA
RD3 Jon Wayne Thomas – Elkhorn, WI
SA John Thomas Tolar – Manhattan Beach, CA
QM3 Gary Joseph Vigue – Farmington, NH
RD3 Con Wesley Warnock – Pineland, TX
SA Henry Dennis West III – Bowman, SC
The only thing that will help these men rest in peace will be having their names added to the Vietnam Memorial Wall. My association has been working for 20 years to make this happen. We are close, but not there yet.
God bless them all…as well as anyone who has given their life in any manner while in uniform. We are a safer, better nation because of them.
Lest We Forget…
Also, read my last post on the Memorail Service for the men from GA who survived 7 Dec 1941 but who have since passed on this year. They are true heroes and a couple are famous for that day, though you wouldn't know it by talking to them.