Weatherford Democrat

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April 3, 2014

War museum to launch Navy memorial garden

National Vietnam War Museum to honor 74 sailors who died in 1969 ship collision

(Continued)

The memorial will highlight a national effort by the association to get the names of the sailors placed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., Kraus said.

The 74 men who lost their lives have been denied placement on the memorial wall because their deaths do not meet official criteria for those killed in the Vietnam War, because the sailors were killed outside of the Department of Defense’s designated combat zone, he said.

At the time of the collision, the Frank E. Evans was 110 nautical miles from mainland Vietnam and was beginning Southeast Asian Treaty Organization training, just shortly after completing artillery fire support missions for troops on the mainland, he said.

Over the years, exceptions have been made to get servicemen placed on the wall, he said. President Ronald Reagan, for instance, issued an edict for 66 Marines killed in a plane crash returning to duty from rest and recreation in Hong Kong.

Currently the Vietnam memorial has 333 slots open for names, he said.  He hopes the Department of Defense will see that the sailors on the Evans did indeed sacrifice their lives while serving in a combat zone.

He and other veterans will present a resolution to the State of California on April 8 to encourage legislators there to push to get the sailors’ names etched on the wall. Resolutions will also be made in Iowa and Pennsylvania.

Getting the names on the wall will honor those who died, as well as all who served on the Frank E. Evans, Campbell said. The destroyer was commissioned in World War II and also saw service in Korea. It was decommissioned on July 1, 1969, and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register.

The association was formed in 1992 and its first meeting was in Fort Worth, he said. It has more than 200 members and a portion of dues are used to fund the Cal Rankin Memorial Fund, honoring Rankin, who served aboard the ship, and wished to have memorials built in each of the home states of the “Lost 74.”

The first memorial was placed in Independence, Mo., home of Kenneth Glines, whose body was the only one recovered after the collision with the Melbourne.

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