Women campaign to get servicemen on Vietnam War Memorial

Sunday, October 29, 2006

By ROBERT HITE

The (Independence) Examiner

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Jackie Holland and Pam Chilcutt are comforted by the memorial marker in Mount Washington Forever Cemetery dedicated to the 74 people who died aboard the USS Frank E. Evans in 1969 -- including their brother.

It's not enough, though.

They want their brother, Kenneth E. Glines, a 1968 Van Horn High School graduate, and the others' names put on the Vietnam War Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

Congressional bills have not been approved to put the names on the wall. The marker in the cemetery is considered "the missing panel."

"I know that he wasn't on land, but he was there to protect our freedom," said Chilcutt, of Lee's Summit.

She said that Evans did fire upon the enemy in Vietnam before the accident.

"I'm not bitter," Holland, of Independence, said. "I just think there is something that could be done to get the 74 names on the wall in Washington, D.C."

Chilcutt and Holland said they have been told the sailors' names are not on the wall because they were not in combat when they died.

They have written their U.S. Congress representatives about it.

The Evans, a destroyer, was traveling in a convoy in the South China Sea outside of the combat zone from the Vietnam shoreline. An Australian aircraft carrier, the Melbourne, hit the Evans -- shearing it in half at 3 a.m. The front portion, where sailors slept, sank. Their bodies have never been recovered, except for one. Glines, 19, was the only sailor whose body was recovered.

"My brother was on watch at the time," Chilcutt said.

She said the information they have says he got caught in some wires while trying to tell others about the approaching ship. The Melbourne hit the Evans within two minutes of him seeing it.

Chilcutt and Holland do not believe they have all the information about what happened. Some of it, they have been told, will not be released because it involved a ship from a foreign country.

"We were told years ago the records would be released after 20 years, and what's it been? 37?" Holland said.

They have been waiting since they found out about it that night, June 3, 1969.

Chilcutt remembers a cousin called her father and mother from Iowa that night during dinner.

"We immediately turned on the TV," Chilcutt said. "It was like an all-night vigil thing."

Holland said the days afterward are kind of a blur.

"My parents never got over it," she said. "They talked about it until they died."

Chilcutt said she has four sons of her own and could not imagine losing one of them.

She described her family as "close knit."

"He was a real caring person. He'd do anything for you," Chilcutt said.

Holland said he may have known his destiny, too. He showed his mother where he wanted to be buried before he left for active duty in February 1969. He had enlisted.

"He didn't think to be back. He didn't think he was going to be on earth very long," she said.

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