Supporters from within and without the community gathered in Klamath Falls Saturday to dedicate Highway 39 to three members of the Evans family who died during or after military service overseas.
David Lynn Evans and brother Norman Francis Evans were killed in Vietnam in 1968 and 1970, respectively, while David L. Evans, son of Norman Evans, died in 2011 after being wounded in Iraq.
David Lynn and Norman Evans were from Klamath Falls and graduated from Henley High School. David L. Evans was from Redmond and is interred in Klamath Falls with his father and uncle.
Because of the losses sustained by the Evans family, and because of the willingness of the deceased to continue serving despite these losses, the Oregon legislature dedicated Highway 39 last year in memory of the three men.
“We are here to celebrate their honor, their sacrifice and their family tradition which builds strong Americans,” said state Sen. Dennis Linthicum during a ceremony Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park, in Klamath Falls.
Efforts to honor vets
Linthicum was one of a number of speakers on hand Saturday to honor the Evans family as well as Steven Bates, chair of non-profit Committee On Memorials and Remembrance. Bates’ group leads efforts to memorialize Vietnam veterans in Oregon and was behind the push for recognition of the Evans brothers and three other Oregon families who lost two sons during the war.
“Our committee determined that we need to do something special for these four families,” said Bates.
In 2013 and 2015, Oregon legislators passed laws creating the Fallen Hero Memorial Highways program, which allows roadside memorial signs to be installed along state highways. A memorial for the Evans family was approved last June with the passage of Senate Concurrent Resolution 19.
A dedicated family
The resolution described how Army Specialist Four David Lynn Evans, born Dec. 21, 1948, died on Oct. 24, 1968, in a helicopter crash while taking enemy fire in Long An Province, South Vietnam. Army Specialist Six Norman Evans, born March 6, 1947, died on Nov. 24, 1970, during the crash of a fixed-wing aircraft in Phong Dinh Provice, South Vietnam.
Army National Guard Sgt. David L. Evans, born Aug. 15, 1969, was injured during a tour in Iraq and these injuries contributed to his death on Aug. 5, 2011, in Corvallis.
Bates said these were the second and third generations of Evans men to enlist in the military following James Earl Evans (1926-1983), father of David Lynn and Norman, who served in the Air Force during WWII and the Korean War.
“The legacy of James and Juanita Evans transcends three generations, a legacy of service, honor and sacrifice,” said Bates.
Jeff Evans, son of Norman Evans and brother of David L. Evans, spoke on behalf of his family and said those who served with his fallen loved ones regarded them very well.
“They have all told me the same thing, and that is there were no better soldiers to serve with than my family members,” said Jeff Evans.
He said one man contacted him online who had been in the helicopter with David Lynn Evans as it was going down. The man said Evans remained at the machine gun to ward off the enemy so the other soldiers had a better chance of reaching the jungle and escaping.
“My dad, my brother and my uncle all fought and died for the same team,” said Jeff Evans. “We are all on that team. That team is the United States of America.”
Coming up soon
Plans are in place to install the signs during the coming weeks. The signs for David Lynn and Norman Evans will be erected along Crater Lake Parkway, while the sign for David L. Evans will be placed near Eternal Hills Memorial Gardens where the three men are buried.
Jeff Evans said, if any residents see the signs as they drive on the highway, he would encourage them to say a prayer for soldiers and their families, for veterans and for the country. He also encouraged them to take a picture of themselves with the sign and, if possible, send the photo to him so he can know they were thinking of the Evans family.