A Rusty Hulk is Their Tombstone
July 12, 1999
These words from CMDR Ashley Greedy echoed around the cavernous area of the War Memorial in Sydney's Hyde Park on June 3.
They brought tears to many of the 150 Australians and Americans standing with heads bowed. They were there to remember the 74 United States Navy officers and sailors, among them three brothers, who died when HMAS MELBOURNE sliced through the USS FRANK E EVANS off Vietnam in the early hours of June 3, 1969.
A party of 42 sailors and family from EVANS had come to Sydney to join the Australians to remember the tragedy.
Those who survived that fateful night again thanked the crew of MELBOURNE for saving their lives.
"But for the Australians the death toll would have been higher," the solemn gathering was told.
One of those with a clear recollection of that night was Texan, Joe Bob Mann, 49.
Wearing his USN uniform he said:" I was in my bunk in the aft section when it happened. There was banging, the scream of tearing metal and a terrific roll.
"I put on my trousers and was told to head for the fantail. I was there for about 30 minutes until EVANS was secured to MELBOURNE and I climbed up a cargo net to the carrier."
Meanwhile, the bow section of the destroyer had gone to the bottom taking 74 with it.
Also to remember at the ceremony was CAPT Steve Stevenson, the Commanding Officer of MELBOURNE.
Only weeks prior Albert McLemore, the then CO of EVANS, admitted for the first time the collision was his responsibility for allowing two inexperienced officers to be on the bridge.
CAPT Stevenson has accepted his remarks.
CMDR Greedy was the master of ceremonies while Senior Chaplain Bryan Rayner took the prayers.
By Graham Davis