Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Cumberland Lincoln 10-11-2018

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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20 CUMBERLAND OCTOBER 11-17, 2018 | VALLEY BREEZE | CUMBERLAND LINCOLN EDITION seeking proper honor for Messier and his other shipmates for many years. A year away from the 50th anni- versary of that crash, none of the names of the 74 sailors killed off the coast of Vietnam on June 3, 1969, are represented on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., despite that being the worst Naval disaster of the war. Members of the USS Frank E. Evans Association, who have long advocated for the addition of the names to the memorial, are now call- ing on Trump to issue an executive order forcing the U.S. Department of Defense to add the names of the victims to the memorial. The request comes after recent efforts in Congress to add the names failed again. Survivor Thibeault, 68, a Pawtucket native who now lives in Connecticut, said advocates for get- ting the names added are nearing their breaking point. "All of us are so damn frustrated it's not funny," he said. "It's gone on way too long." The group has come so close to breaking through on multiple occasions, said Thibeault, but "someone in the Senate always shoots it down." The most common excuse given, said Thibeault, is that there isn't much room left on the wall and that adding the names "would open a can of worms." "We're still fighting," he said. Messier was one of the "Lost 74," who perished at sea when the Evans collided with an Australian aircraft carrier in the South China Sea around 3 a.m. Just shy of his 21st birthday, he was at the front of the ship, while Thibeault was at the rear. Thibeault is honoring his friend, "Mess," as he called him, as well as the others with cross-country performances of his new song, "Recognition," promoting the cause (listen to the song at www.billthi- beault.com). Anne White, a Cumberland resident and one of Messier's sisters who's been fighting for proper honor for more than two decades, said the "U.S. government has really fallen short" in its obligation to honor those lost. "Those 74 young men, their names aren't on that wall, and they should be on that wall," she said. "All I know is there's something not right with this." U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse has been a point person on the mat- ter, she said, but even he hasn't been able to move the needle. Representatives from Whitehouse's office did not respond to requests for comment this week. White said she and her brother Dick were born and raised in Cumberland, her brother playing Little League and delivering local newspapers. "Everyone knew him," she said. When the crash happened, the government immediately seemed to hush it up, "closing it really tight, really fast," added White. "There's something about this that we don't know, and I don't know if I'll ever find out in my lifetime," she said. "It's such a horrible mess. From the day that ship went down, those guys didn't matter to anyone." She said her previous efforts to have a monument erected at Veterans Memorial Park in the Cumberland Monastery came up short after she said staff of former Mayor Dan McKee told her such a monument didn't fit the vision for the area, said White. A ceremony was held two years ago in Cumberland's Resurrection Cemetery marking the placement of a stone to honor Messier and oth- ers who died that day. Mayor Bill Murray said Tuesday that his impres- sion at the time was that the family was satisfied with the placement of the stone and dedication of a tree in his memory. White said there have been sug- LOST 74 From Page One Continues on next page BILL THIBEAULT, a Pawtucket native, stands by the grave of his lost shipmate, Frederic Messier, during a ceremony at his grave in the Resurrection Cemetery of Cumberland three years ago. Thibeault is launching a cross-country tour with his song 'Recognition' in hopes of finally getting the names of Messier and others killed in the 1969 crash of the USS Frank E. Evans off Vietnam onto the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. FREDERIC MESSIER after entering the U.S. Navy. 9 Powder Hill Road (Off Rt. 123) Lincoln, RI 401-728-5903 www.RhodyRug.com Open Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat 9 a.m.-4 p.m. VISIT OUR FACTORY OUTLET STORE! We offer specialty air conditioning for apartments & elderly complexes! 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