A Date with Destiny – Part IX

April 24th, 2014 by xformed

Since 2009, I’ve had a nagging voice in the back of my head that says “You should try to get recognition for LT Ray Everts. It’s been very insistent and persistent this past week. This year, I’m asking for an effort of the greater group of shipmates, who may be able to find some puzzle pieces. Keep reading, I’ll get to it. First a little background:

I began this story in 2007, 19 years after the fact because I realized it was a story worth telling of the professionalism of my shipmates on USS CARR (FFG-52) and the sailors from USS KENNEDY (CV-67) who saved those men in peril on the sea on April 24th, 1988. I wasn’t there, I reported aboard USS CARR (FFG-52) in late September that year, but in time for the awards to flow in. During that time I heard the first person stories of my crew.

For many years, it was an integral part of the history of the ship, but that ended as a story among a crew March 13, 2013, when the USS CARR (FFG-52) decommissioned. The story is alive around the web. Part of it here. As I sought out first my shipmates via Navy: Together We Served. I later reached out to those who may have been there, by dates listed aboard the USS BONEFISH (SS-582), USS KENNEDY (CV-67) and USS MCCLOY (FF-1038). While got some dry holes, I found LCDR Pete Wilson, USN who provided a detailed, multi-page input. All those stories, from the several sailors and officers who took the time to provide their view of history, added more context to the day.

Again, I began to tell a story of professionalism, but found a story of heroism, one that had not been reported for the record: It came first from a comment left by Jim Chapman in 2007: He had been the aircrewman in the back of Dusty Dog 613 right on top (they had been practicing dipping on BONEFISH when the fire occurred). Jim lives right near by and we met and he told me what was happening in the helo. They knew sailors were in trouble and needed help, and they did more than the helo was supposed to do, nearly resulting in a crash while trying to hoist more men. That takes guts to keep working a few yards off the water in extreme conditions. Thankfully they and the sailors they pulled aboard all are here to tell the story. In the April 2008 annual post, I recorded Jim’s story to share. He added to my view (and if you read his post, you’ll see he was clear about making sure I had the story right). Jim: BTW, I called CAPT Johnson about 2 years ago and pointed out you and your crew knew exactly what you were doing.

On April 15th, 2008, FT2(SS) Bill Baker left a comment on the 2007 post that told a story of heroism beyond even what the helo crew: LT Everts died in his lap, having safely gotten the boat to the surface, ensuring he didn’t add a collision with a surface ship to the already chaotic, deadly situation. He didn’t put on an EAB, as it would have obstructed his use of the periscope during surfacing. I emailed Pete Wilson, the former XO, and he said that was never related at the debriefings. That began the little voice in the back of my head. The April 2009 anniversary post quoted Bill Baker’s comments and put what history of Ray Everts I could track down via the internet.

Here’s my request to my shipmates and family members who may wander by here, it’s also three parts:

  • I’d like to find out how to contact LT Evert’s family. Sounds like he wasn’t married by the many comments, so I’m assuming his parents would have been the NOKs.
  • I want to mount a campaign to complete a virtual 1650 for the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, to acknowledge his selfless sacrifice for his shipmates, the 89 who survived.
  • Help to figure out who to submit this to in DoN, or possibly via the serving Congressional senator or representative.

Who’s in? Spread the word, reach out to commenters on other blogs (that’s another part of the story), let’s see if we can crowd source the answers and move forward to get this medal in the service record of Ray for the ages.

Leave your comments here, so it can be a group effort. eMail is nice, but this space can be the virtual bulletin board to share anything someone knows.

To those who have, here, and on other blogs, added to this entire story, thank you. The connection of the internet has allowed this moment in time to become a fuller story than any one person has, and also has connected a few sailors from that day.

And to those, not on the sub, or the helos, or the whale boat, who scrambled to comfort and care for the sailors of the BONEFISH, your efforts were greatly appreciated (go back and skim the comments that have appeared over the years). BZ.

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 24th, 2014 at 12:01 am and is filed under "Sea Stories", History, Leadership, Maritime Matters, Military, Military History, Navy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 responses about “A Date with Destiny – Part IX”

  1. Jim Chapman said:

    A noble endeavor no doubt and a medal that is warranted.

    I have JJ’s (Waickwicz) number if you need it. We spoke at length a couple of years ago after he retired. After all these years he is still great guy and I have no doubt that if contacted, he would support the effort. In fact, a few years after the fire, JJ did a write up for this particular medal for Grossman which was subsequently awarded.

    Since I was never into the whole “who got what medal” issue I am only aware of the Grossman medal. Except for a few pilots, I don’t know what medals others got. Personally, I thought the Navy/Marine Corp medal was a stretch but I wish Ol Larry the best as he continued on to have a successful career in the Nav retiring as an 0-4. Hey Larry, next time (per SOP) keep your mask tied to your flotation so you don’t lose it and succumb to the elements. On that note, honestly I thought my particular medal was kind of a joke as the citation write-up didn’t match the award or compare to medals awarded to pilots……but I don’t care, that event doesn’t define me. In this case I am more interested in preserving an accurate history.

    I believe that if anyone associated with Bonefish deserves this level of recognition it would be Everts and possibly Baker. I support the effort 100 percent.

    Oh, and thanks for setting the record straight with the Carr CO. No worries. :-) Which leads me to a side note all these years later. Regardless of this medal business which is a political quagmire anyways, the real heroes that day were the people who actually put themselves in harms way. These were the people who were there in the sub exposed to the fire/smoke, the guys who had their boots melting to their feet, as well as those who engaged in the rescue directly above while the fire raged out of control and the potential for an additional catastrophic explosion existed. As Wilson later commented in his report, he didn’t know why the sub didn’t blow. We above it were operating under the assumption that it was going to blow at any time. It was during that initial 45minutes when the Bonefish surfaced where people were dying below and submariners laid about on the deck injured and unconscious……..that initial 45 minutes was the time for heroic acts. All the rest of it after the guys were off the Bone and in the rafts was just guys waiting for their ride home.

    The truth may offend some people, but it is what is.

  2. Jim Chapman said:

    ……..I still need my Approach back.

  3. russell everts said:

    As far as parent both have passed. It’s just me and my sister left. You can contact me at this email.

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