LONG BEACH (CBSLA.com) — The names of 74 sailors who died on the USS Frank E. Evans may finally be included on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.
“It’s time. We need to recognize the sacrifices that these guys made, that their families made,” Pete Peters said.
Pete Peters, of Redondo Beach, was a machinist’s mate third class petty officer on board the USS Frank E. Evans during the Vietnam War.
Early on the morning of June 3, 1969, the ship was in the middle of a training exercise off the coast of Vietnam when an Australian aircraft carrier accidentally split through it.
“Very vividly I remember the carrier actually went through the forward wall, the forward bulkhead. A lot of the guys thought they were dead. I thought I was dead,” Peters said.
Seventy-four of Peters’ fellow sailors did perish, like Radarman Ron Thibodeau, of La Habra, who left behind a 2-year-old son and three brothers from one family.
The names of those who died, however, were never included on The Wall in D.C.
“The guys would have never been there if it hadn’t been for the Vietnam War,” Peters said.
“Just about everything I do is geared at getting my guys’ names on The Wall,” veteran Dean Wyse said.
CBS2’s Serene Branson reports the Pentagon has repeatedly denied requests to include the names.
Just last week, however, legislation by Congressman Adam Schiff of Burbank to put the names on The Wall passed out of the House.
The legislation now moves on to the Senate.
For the veterans, however, it won’t bring their fallen friends back, but it will cement their spot in history.
“We just need to push this, make the final hump, get their names on The Wall,” Peters said.
A memorial service to remember the sailors who were killed will take place Tuesday at 10 a.m. in Long Beach.