LONG BEACH (CBSLA.com) — The local widow of a Vietnam War veteran is on a mission to fulfill her late husband’s wishes of seeing the names of 74 of his shipmates, killed during the war, added to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C.
Tom Manley, who passed away in 2008, was stationed on the USS Frank E. Evans, which made berth from Long Beach during the war. In 1969, the ship was in waters off the coast of Vietnam when she was accidentally struck by an Australian aircraft carrier, and was split.
74 sailors died that day, but their names were never included on the Memorial Wall. In fact, California state legislators just recently voted to put their names on a wall in Sacramento sometime in 2015, 46 years after the event.
Veterans Day 2014, however, brought a renewed push to include their names in Washington as well, according to Tom’s wife, Mary.
“Before (Tom) died, he told me the names weren’t going to be on the wall in his lifetime,” Mary said. “It’s going to happen in my lifetime.”
The names were never added because, technically, the crew was training just outside of an arbitrary line before returning to combat, at the time of the accident.
“I’m just very sad that we’re losing so many parents that will never see their son’s name on the wall,” Mary said.
The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed a bill, introduced by Congressman Adam Schiff of Burbank, who urged the senate this week to take action on the matter.
“We’re hoping that part of the unfinished business that congress does is to pass this provision, urging the secretary to add the Frank E. Evans sailors to the Vietnam memorial,” Congressman Schiff said.
Schiff went on to say that the Secretary of Defense does not need congress’ approval to act, and that he could make a declaration.
Mary, meanwhile, still sees the dream her husband pursued for so many years becoming a reality.
“I already envision myself at the wall, seeing the names.”