Wednesday, 08 February 2023

Names of fallen service members to be added to California Vietnam Veterans Memorial

SACRAMENTO – The California Vietnam Memorial Name Committee has agreed to add the names of 31 California Veterans who died while serving our country in the Vietnam War.

The 31 names are scheduled to be added to the California Vietnam Veterans Memorial and then unveiled during a ceremony in Capitol Park on March 29, 2015.

“We are honored to formally recognize the service and sacrifice of our brave men in uniform,” said Peter Gravett, secretary, California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet). “Although our recognition is decades late, California’s salute is equally heartfelt and deserved for all of our fallen service members and their families.”

On Oct. 28, the committee took two actions.

First, it voted in favor of adding the names of 10 California veterans to the state memorial that were already etched into the Vietnam Veterans Memorial located in Washington, DC, yet not on the California memorial.

The following 10 veterans will be added to the state memorial in Sacramento:

– Johnny Owen Brooks;
– Donald Scott Carson;
– James Douglas Chappell;                       
– David McLean Desilets;
– John Edward Granville;
– Thomas Randolph McCormick;                       
– Richard Monroe Pruett;
– Robert Michael Swick;                                     
– Richard John Tortorice;
– John Henry Van Wyk.                                        

Second, the committee voted in favor of adding the names of 21 California sailors who died while aboard the USS Frank E. Evans when the ship sank during a training exercise in the South China Sea on June 3, 1969. The destroyer’s home port was Long Beach.

Approval to add the names of 21 sailors came after the committee heard testimony from families of the fallen Sailors and survivors. 

The 21 sailors are:

– Andrew James Botto;                                       
– Robert George Brandon;                                  
– William Daniel Brown II;                                    
– Christopher John Carlson;                               
– Danny Victor Clute;
– Joe Eddy Craig;
– Leon Larry Deal;
– Steven Frank Espinosa;
– William Donald Fields;
– Henry Kenneth Frye;
– Francis Joseph Garcia;
– Devere Ray Grissom Jr.;
– James William Kerr;
– Isaac Lyons Jr.;
– Andrew Martin Melendrez;                                
– Gregory Koichi Ogawa;
– Craig Allen Pennell;
– John Raymond Spray;
– Jon Kenneth Stever;
– Ronald Arthur Thibodeau;
– John Thomas Tolar.

All 31 names are set to be unveiled at a ceremony in Sacramento’s Capitol Park scheduled for Sunday, March 29, 2015, the day before Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.

The committee, created when Gov. Brown signed AB 287 in 2013, is tasked with adding names of men and women killed during the Vietnam War.

The committee is also charged with reviewing the names of men and women whose deaths after returning from service in Vietnam were determined by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to be service-connected.

Under the provisions of the law, written by Assemblymember Jim Frazier Jr., the committee must compile a list of names to be added to the memorial by Nov. 1 of each year.

The Committee members are CalVet Secretary Peter J. Gravett, chairman; representatives from the California State Commanders Veterans Council: Jerry Guevara, Vice chairman, and Jim Anderson; representatives from the California Chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America: Al Sickle, Mike Kennedy, and Lou Nuñes as alternate.

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