To Add the Names of the Fallen to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators and Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) members Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced the U.S.S. Frank E. Evans Act today, a bill to honor the crewmembers who died in the sinking of the U.S.S. Frank E. Evans during the Vietnam War.

“The 74 sailors who perished on the U.S.S. Frank E. Evans did so while serving our country,” said Senator Cramer. “Their sacrifice- and that of their families- is worth not only remembering, but also being forever memorialized on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. alongside those with whom they served.”

“The Vietnam Veterans Memorial honors the extraordinary sacrifices made by our Vietnam War heroes, but there are still 74 names missing from the iconic black wall,” said Senator Gillibrand. “It’s long-past time that we properly memorialize the brave American service members who lost their lives on the U.S.S. Frank E. Evans. I’m proud to introduce bipartisan legislation so that their names may be included on the Memorial, and I will always do everything I can in the Senate to honor those who serve our nation.”

“It has been almost 50 years since the collision between USS Frank E. Evans and HMAS Melbourne,” said Steve Kraus, U.S.S. Frank E. Evans Survivor and President of the U.S.S. Frank E. Evans Association. “I am encouraged and excited that our government officials recognize and honor the ultimate sacrifice our Lost 74 Sailors made for our country. The placement of the names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial will bring closure to the families of the lost.” 

Background

The U.S.S. Frank E. Evans served multiple tours off the coast of Vietnam during the Vietnam War before being ordered to withdraw to participate in a South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) exercise. Although they were scheduled to return following the exercise, they collided with a friendly ship, which resulted in the death of 74 United States sailors.

One criteria for a service members’ name to be added to Washington, D.C.’s Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall is they must have died while participating- or providing direct support to- a combat mission en route, or returning from a target, within a combat zone. Because they were not doing so, the names of those who perished on the U.S.S. Frank E. Evans- even though they had just served and were scheduled to return- are not included on the memorial.

After this was brought to Senator Cramer’s attention during a radio town hall by a Fargo resident and family member of a sailor who died on the ship, then-Representative Cramer introduced an amendment to last year’s National Defense Authorization Act to honor these crewmembers. While it passed in the House, it failed to be added to the Senate version or in the conference committee’s final version. 

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