CSS Tabbed Menus Css3Menu.com

April 15, 2005
Oroville Mercury Register June 10, 1985
by Emily J Hornaday and Kathy (Evans) Mendenhall, as told to me, Stu.

The story of WWII hero Robert Imlay Evans of Oroville, OUHS, early 1940’s. Robert served aboard the USS Longshaw, destroyed by Japanese fire from Okinawa, May 18, 1945. The Longshaw’s keel was laid down June 16, 1942 and sailed a year later, June 4, 1943. Christened by Miss E. Richards, a fine sleek destroyer. About this time Robert left Oroville High School and joined the Navy. He wanted to fight the Japanese for what they had done. He signed up with his friend John Higgins, who is here it the picture with him. Robert soon was on the Longshaw as a member of the ship’s first crew. He and his buddies “Family” were assigned to the forward 5” gun turret. They fired on the shores of Okinawa for 4 days, so many rounds the barrel’s rifling wore down, reducing accuracy. At night they fired flare shells. On that last fatal day for some reason an officer sent Robert to the aft gun turret which saved his life, but unfortunately he lost all his friends when the front of the ship took direct hits. (For reason’s known only to “God” the ship ran aground. Ships are made to fight in the open sea, but this brave crew had taken their ship in close to protect our boys fighting on shore. Right or wrong it happened.) Stu. She was hard aground on the Ose Reef, the Tugboat, Arikana tried hard to pull her free to no avail. Soon the Japanese opened fire with shore batteries the brave men of the Longshaw had no chance to fight back. They were sitting ducks. Robert now on the Torpedo deck saw the shells coming he told Kathy that he was scared when they hit. 50% of his ship was destroyed. His gun mount with his buddies gone. Captain C. W. Becker gave the orders to abandon ship. Robert did and helped a wounded shipmate to a power can. Then the ship blew up and knocked him out. He woke up under water and came up in a burning sea of oil. He was hit in the hand as the Japanese on shore were firing on the swimmers who were heading for open sea. Empty landing craft picked up Robert and the others, of the almost 300 men on board 84 died, 95 wounded, Captain Becker was lost along with many of the officers.
Roberts words to Kathy. “I got this medal awful easy, I feel ashamed to take it. There were guys who lost arms and legs and their lives. We did get 3 Kamikaze (our ship)” Which he was very proud of. Later in his life he became more understanding of why things happen like they do and had his Purple Hart engraved. He passed away at 70 years old.

Stu’s notes; More ships were lost at Okinawa than at Pearl Harbor. On my article about the Vichy French I want to say that the ordinary soldier and sailor takes orders from his superior and must obey them only a few high up French wanted to fight us. It was sad so many had to die, for the ego of their officers. Darby Miller told me at the retreat of Dunkirk the French fought a desperate regard action in which thousands were killed by the Nazi’s most never to be found after the war. His brother in law, Melvin Franks was lost there and where he is only God knows. Their gallant action saved the lives of thousands of allied men, who made it to England to fight another day.