Sacramento, CA – The sinking of the destroyer USS Frank E. Evans during Vietnam War exercises in the South China Seas is one of the lesser-known military tragedies of that war.
But for the families of the 74 men who died that day in 1969, the effort to have the names of those brave sailors inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. is an ongoing battle.
State Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) asked his fellow lawmakers to join him in helping to set the record straight by supporting AJR 33 which urges the United States Department of Defense to include the names of the fallen sailors on the Memorial.
"The outstanding service of the 74 American sailors during the Vietnam War is without dispute - they died in service to this country," said Assemblymember Holden. "But for a technicality, they would have been included in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Forty-five years later, it's time to set the record straight."
Pasadena resident, Tim Wendler, whose father was one of the sailors killed that day, testified before the Assembly: "In the hearts and minds of the families, shipmates and survivors of the USS Evans, the application of eligibility standards has not been fair. Isn't it time for our nation to honor their memory?"
The collision of the USS Evans with an Australian aircraft carrier took place 110 miles from the Vietnam combat zone; the Evans was taking part in exercises after having provided gunfire support off the coast of Vietnam. The destroyer received a Vietnam Service Medal for the night it sank, but was said to be too far outside the combat zone to qualify for inclusion on the Memorial Wall.
AJR 33 was unanimously approved in the Assembly Veteran's Committee late Tuesday.. It now goes to the Assembly floor for approval.