ENS Evan Frederick Evans,
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ENS Evan Frederick Evans
Born in San Francisco on Dec. 6, 1916, Evan Frederick Evans was the only child of retired Navy Lieutenant Frederick Evans and his wife, Belle. He graduated from Drew High School in San Francisco and continued his education at the College of the Pacific (now the University of the Pacific) in Stockton, California. There, he had a campus romance with Gretta Gale before working in the financial world in Oakland.
In July 1940, Mr. Evans enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve, enrolling in a special training course in the East. Upon completion, Mr. Evans was commissioned as an ensign on Nov. 14, 1940, and went on board the U.S.S. Arizona on Dec. 1.
Six months later, on June 2, 1941, Ensign Evans married his college sweetheart in a ceremony at the Congregational Church of Honolulu. Gretta Gale, two years younger than the ensign, was the daughter of Jury Commissioner William H. and Hazel Gale. Ensign Evans’ father died ten days after his son’s wedding, back in California, at the age of 62. The retired lieutenant was buried at the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California.
Gretta Evans remained in Honolulu. Six months into their newlywed year, Ensign Evans was concerned about the tenseness of the situation in the Pacific and sent his bride home to California. She was aboard the SS Lurline, halfway from Honolulu to San Francisco, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941. Mrs. Evans was home only two days when, in the early morning hours of Dec. 12, a messenger delivered the telegram informing her that her husband had been killed in action. Ensign Evans, whose administrative duty was with the Jr. Watch & Division and whose collateral duty was with the cobbler shop, was also assigned to a battle station as a battery officer for Port AA — the port-side anti-aircraft guns.
Just three weeks after her son’s death, his recently widowed mother, Mrs. Belle Evans, was quoted in the Shafter Press as saying, “I’m awfully, awfully proud that I had a son in the United States Navy. He had a job to do. He was doing what he was supposed to do and I’m proud of him.” Two years later, on Dec. 7, 1943, Ensign Evans’ mother received his Purple Heart. The back of the medal bears the inscription “For military merit – Ensign Evan Evans, U.S.N.R.” One year later, in 1944, Belle Evans died. Ensign Evans’ widow lived until the age of 65 in the same area where Ensign Evans sent her home to be safe.
Sources: The Oakland Tribune, University of the Pacific records, Census records, Golden Gate National Cemetery Interment Record and grave marker, the Shafter (California) Press, cruiselinehistory.com, California birth records. Special thanks to Marie Pavini Martin for helping with the research and for writing this profile on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial. Her uncle, Bruno Pavini, was among the 1,177 men killed on the Arizona.