Welcome to the Dog Tag, Episode VI, Season 1, a podcast by the St. Charles County Veterans Museum.
On 2-JUN 1969 the Navy destroyer U.S.S Frank E. Evans was cruising through the calm, moonlit waters of the South China Sea. Just days before, the Evans was on the gun line, throwing countless shells at targets in South Vietnam supporting ground troops. The Evans had just earned its second Vietnam Service Medal for combat operations in 1969.
On this night, the Frank E. Evans joined forces with SEATO naval forces to conduct war games and a show of force in the South China Sea. It is normal practice to run dark and zigzag during war games. Sailors are highly trained for these types of maneuvers.
During the mid-watch, at 0315 hours, the Australian aircraft carrier, HMAS Melbourne a much larger ship collided, with the Evans. The smaller, Frank E. Evans was literally cut in half. The bow section of the ship would sink beneath the waves in ten minutes.
This is the story of the collision as told by a survivor. Joe Mulitsch was a fireman, and the Evans was his first ship. Joe escaped, but 74 of his shipmates, perished that night 53 years ago.
Click on the link below to listen to Joe’s story.