June 03, 2022

Congressman Schiff Introducing Bill to Add Names of the “Lost 74” to the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial

Today, on the anniversary of the accident, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) announced plans to introduce bipartisan legislation to give proper recognition to the 74 sailors who lost their lives on the U.S.S. Frank E. Evans during the Vietnam War, by adding their names to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.

“The ‘Lost 74’ of the U.S.S. Frank E. Evans were killed in service of their country during the Vietnam War. An arbitrary boundary line does not change those facts, nor should it change how we honor these heroes who, like their tens of thousands of fellow fallen servicemembers, made the ultimate sacrifice for the American people,” said Schiff. “These brave Americans deserve to be honored at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, so that the families and loved ones they left behind can pay proper tribute, and their heroism is never forgotten.”

On June 3, 1969, the U.S.S. Frank E. Evans was struck by HMAS Melbourne, an Australian aircraft carrier in the South China Sea, and 74 American sailors lost their lives. The two vessels were participating in a joint Southeast Asia Treaty Organization exercise called "Sea Spirit” at the time of the collision.

Despite operating in Vietnamese waters immediately before deployment to joint exercise Sea Spirit, and a scheduled return to activities supporting the war effort after the exercise, it was determined that since the incident took place outside the geographical limit for the combat zone, the sailors who lost their lives were ineligible for inclusion on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. That conclusion did not acknowledge that at the time of the incident, the U.S.S. Evans was instrumental in advancing American military objectives in Vietnam and the crew had participated in conflict just days before the collision.

For several years, Schiff has petitioned the U.S. Secretary of Defense to grant an exemption to the criteria requirements for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, so that the “Lost 74” can join their 58,000 comrades on the Wall. In addition to offering multiple amendments to past National Defense Authorization bills, Schiff has discussed the issue with successive Defense Secretaries and Secretaries of the Navy, urging them to rectify this injustice.

The U.S.S. Frank E. Evans Act is co-sponsored by Representatives Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) and Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.).

To read the full bill text, click here.

 

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