The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif.
by Stephanie Weldy
Feb 29, 2016
The 20-year-old died, along with 73 others, aboard the USS Frank E. Evans in an accidental collision in the South China Sea in 1969.For years, Novato resident and Vietnam War veteran Jim Reilly had no interest in visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.
Seeing the names of those he had known inscribed on the granite wall in Washington D.C. would have been too difficult, he said.
When Reilly did at last visit it in 1999, he was shocked. The name of his younger brother was missing. The 20-year-old died, along with 73 others, aboard the USS Frank E. Evans in an accidental collision in the South China Sea in 1969.
As he would learn, the omission of Lawrence Reilly Jr.'s name, and those of the other fallen men — dubbed "The Lost 74" — was no accident. Now 47 years since his brother's death, Reilly, 70, is not done fighting. He is involved in a campaign to have the names of those killed aboard the USS Evans added to the wall.
"Ultimately, of course we'd like the 74 names added to the wall," Reilly said.
"Space is going to be a problem so it may be necessary to make some kind of accommodation. Whatever accommodation needs to be made, it should be made."
In the early hours of June 3, 1969, the USS Evans, a Navy destroyer carrying 272 men, was ripped in two during Operation Sea Spirit, a training exercise involving more than 40 ships of allied countries.
After one flawed move by the USS Evans 225 miles off the coast of Vietnam, the HMAS Melbourne, an Australian carrier, tore into the ship, killing 74 men. The brothers' father, Lawrence Reilly Sr., was also aboard the ship as a U.S. Navy master chief, but survived.
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