Today, June 3rd, marks the 44 anniversary of the sinking of the front half of the USS FRANK E EVANS DD754, carrying 73 men to their watery grave (one body was recoded and is buried in Independence, MO), after being cut in half in an accident with the HMAS-MELBOURNE in the South China Sea. It was June 3rd, at a little past 3:00 a.m. on that side of the international dateline. And that is the date the military and the survivors recognize as the correct date. At home, in Alabama, it was a little past 3:00 p.m. CST on Monday afternoon on June 2nd.
Yesterday, Sunday, June 2nd, I was given the honor of representing my ship's association at a memorial dedication to one of THE LOST 74, Thomas Belue Box in Athens, Alabama.
Tom had just been promoted to RD3 (posthumously – he knew from the promotion list that he made third class, but could not put on ‘the crow’ until the effective date – thus posthumously) and was on watch in the Combat Information Center (CIC).
Tom had many friends and loved to play his guitar when not on watch. Such a tragic loss of talent and what ifs…
I gave the 100+ attendees a bit of history about the ship, that night and some of what life was like for Tom and the men of the USS FRANK E EVANS back in the 60’s.
Congressman Mo Brooks (Northern Alabama) also gave a very moving speech in the type person Tom and the men he served with were; what their death means to the country and how they should be recognized on The Wall even though they were not in combat at the time. (Lip service? Time will tell.)
This is Tom’s 90 summen, summen, mom and his aunt and sister, Sarah. Julie, his other living sister, came a little later. This is one gracious and loving family proven by all the attendees who were there in their support.
(Of course, being the sailor that I am, I had to have my picture made withe the best looking women in the place. Both ladies are the Grand Dames of the South. (To be honest, Mrs Box, on the right, is almost totally blind now, so that is how I got to be that close to her. Her sister, Miss Belue, was just as sweet.))
A few years ago our late association member and Korean Vet, Cal Rankin, came up with the idea of placing at least one memorial stone in each state with a lost son. After his passing, his daughter, Sharon Shirak, took over the awesome responsibility (along with continuing her dad’s company).
These are pictures of the front and back of the memorial stone and the flag pole the association had place for the Box family. They are placed in the Box/Belue family section.
Memorial stones like this are being placed in all the states who lost a native son (or where the surviving family lives.) Last week one was place in North Dakota, and in the near future there will be one placed in GA, FL, and West Virginia/Kentucky area, and several in California. The stones are not the last honor we are trying to bestow for the men. Our main goal is in getting the 74 names on The Wall.
There was a group of men (vets all) who travel the state of Alabama performing military burials that the US military are not involved. They gave a 21 gun salute using WWII M1 Grand’s and played taps.
It was a beautiful service and I am so thankful the Box family allowed me to be a part of it.
RIP Tom! You were well loved.