TARRYTOWN, N.Y. -- In wake of Memorial Day, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer launched a push Friday to have the names of 74 Americans enshrined on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., including a Tarrytown native.
Schumer explained that these Americans bravely served their country during the Vietnam War and died tragically in a war-related training exercise aboard the USS Frank E. Evans in the South China Sea. Among those who perished was Dennis Ralph Johnson of Tarrytown.
On June 3, 1969, the USS Frank E. Evans collided with an Australian aircraft carrier during a joint naval exercise in the South China Sea. Seventy-four American sailors were killed in the accident. However, because the tragedy took place outside of the official Vietnamese combat zone, the crew was deemed ineligible for inclusion on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
“It is a mistake and an injustice that 74 veterans, including Dennis Ralph Johnson, bravely served their country in the Vietnam War and cannot be recognized on the national Vietnam Memorial Wall because of an overly strict and inflexible interpretation of a bureaucratic rule," Schumer said. These sailors served their country well, both inside and outside the combat zone, and the collision that caused these brave Americans to lose their lives should be considered directly linked to the war."
Enlisting at the conflict's height in 1968, Johnston entered boot camp in San Diego, CA. After graduating in October of 1968, he was received for duty on board the USS Frank E. Evans. Shortly after his arrival onboard, he was assigned to help ready the ship for deployment. At the time of the collision in June of the following year, Dennis was asleep in his berth.
In addition to Johnston, four additional New York crew members perished in the accident.
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