Ernest Edwin Evans, USN
|Born||13 Aug 1908||Pawnee, Oklahoma|
|Died||25 Oct 1944||(36)||Leyte Gulf|
LCdr. Ernest E. Evans, USN on 27 Oct 1943
Warship Commands listed for Ernest Edwin Evans, USN
|USS Alden (DD 211)||Lcmdr||Destroyer||Jul 1942||28 Jun 1943 (2)|
|USS Johnston (i) (DD 557)||Lcmdr||Destroyer||27 Oct 1943||25 Oct 1944 (+)|
Evans, of Native American ancestry (half Cherokee and one quarter Creek), was born in Pawnee, Oklahoma. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1931. During World War II, he commanded the destroyer USS Alden (DD-211) and later became the only skipper of the Fletcher-class destroyer USS Johnston (DD-557). Commanding Johnston, he was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious achievement in action against a Japanese submarine on May 16, 1944.
Medal of Honor action
In the Battle off Samar, a part of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Evans fought his ship gallantly until it was sunk on October 25, 1944, by the Japanese force that was superior in number, firepower, and armor. Johnston, together with the destroyers USS Hoel (DD-533) and USS Heermann (DD-532), four destroyer escorts and six escort carriers (CVEs) formed the task unit 77.4.3, known as Taffy 3. This group, together with planes from Taffy 2 (TU 77.4.2), ultimately forced a vastly superior Japanese battle group consisting of several battleships, heavy cruisers, light cruisers and destroyers to abort its original mission to attack the landing beaches at Leyte under the command of General Douglas MacArthur and retreat. The fate of the Johnston's captain was never conclusively established, and remains the subject of continuing conjecture among the ship's survivors. Some claim that he was hit by Japanese naval shellfire others that he was able to jump into a damaged motor whaleboat. What is known is that he was seriously wounded during the battle that he lived long enough to give the abandon ship order and that he was not among those rescued. Evans posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his material contribution to the decisive victory won in Leyte Gulf and shared in the Presidential Unit Citation awarded his group for this action in which he gave his life. When the Japanese fleet during the Battle off Samar was first sighted, Evans did not hesitate and his ship immediately headed directly towards the far superior enemy. He is reported to have told his crew over the ship's intercom: "A large Japanese fleet has been contacted. They are fifteen miles away and headed in our direction. They are believed to have four battleships, eight cruisers, and a number of destroyers. This will be a fight against overwhelming odds from which survival cannot be expected. We will do what damage we can." The last portion of the quote ("This will be ... damage we can.") is usually credited to LCDR Robert W. Copeland of the USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413), who charged in with Evans.
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