Rudy Cartwright's Account
The Frank E. Evans: The Rest of the Story
To all of you Old Salts that have forgotten the things that occurred surrounding the Frank E. Evans’ Mishap, here is the rest of the story.
Hopefully, you’ll recall that we were headed to Thailand to buy lots of silk and diamonds for our dear wives once we went ashore following our arrival. One day prior to our scheduled arrival in port, the powers-that-be decided that it would be a good idea if the “Brown-Shoe” Navy guys would cross-deck with the “Black-Shoe” types so that each would learn and appreciate what the other did while on tour.
You’ve guessed it. On June 2nd, I elected to be crossed-decked to the Frank E. Evans. I arrived aboard the “Tincan” by of all things, high-line (those pictures are stored somewhere in one of my never-throw-away boxes). The time of my arrival was somewhere between 1000 hours and 1200 hours. While on that high-line, halfway between Kearsarge and the Evans, I remember looking down and wondering “What the Hell am I doing in this situation?” At any rate, I made it safely onto the Evans deck. After getting there, the idea was for me to sail into port with them; in other words, I was to stay over night. I met the Commanding Officer and the rest of the officers. Moreover, I learned and viewed every nook and cranny of that fine vessel.
For whatever reason, I decided that instead of sailing into port with them, I should go back to the Kearsarge and get some paperwork done. I asked that a message be sent to HS-6 around 1730 to have a helo sent over to pick me up. Doug Heggie arrived about an hour later and hoisted me aboard the helo and back to the Kearsarge we went.
When I arrived back aboard, Rich Keenan promptly put me back on the flight schedule --- take off was at 0300 hours. At the time I was hacked about being put on the flight schedule.
After being briefed in the Ready Room, Gordy Thomas and I took off as planned. However, about ten minutes after take off, we were given a new heading that was different from the one that we received in the Ready Room. About twenty minutes after taking up the new heading, we could see in the distance an area that was lit up like Times Square during New Year’s Eve. What was going on?
When we arrived on the scene, we were given “search sectors” to look for survivors. Because of the debris in the water, I thought an aircraft had hit the fantail of the Melbourne. At about daybreak, I noticed a small watercraft off to my port. Because it had only one smokestack, I thought to myself, “What’s a fleet tug doing way out here?” We continued our search and then decided to take a closer look at the “fleet tug”. One of the crew said, “It’s the aft half of a destroyer”. I flew my helo closer to determine if we could identify it. The crewman said, “It’s the Evans”.
I still have the wooden placard with a nice picture of the Frank E. Evans (DD-754) on it; the Commanding Officer (he survived the sinking) gave it to me as a memento for spending time with them on June 2nd.
If anyone knows where the placard can be sent, let me know.
And now you know “The Rest of the Story.”