SD Vietnam War Memorial Dedication Please Support the Memorial Soldiers, Heroes, and teachers information

 

 



In Memory of U.S. Marine Lance Corporal

Paul Olynn Evans

Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Minnehaha County

June 21, 1945 -- December 22, 1966

Killed in Action in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam

   

Paul Olynn Evans was born on June 21, 1945, in Sioux Falls, Minnehaha County, South Dakota to parents, Kenneth and Norma (Scott) Evans. His younger sister, Jane, was his only sibling. He was raised east of Dell Rapids and moved to Sioux Falls at an early age. He attended grade school in Sioux Falls and then went to Whittier Junior High, where he first became a standout athlete in football and track. From the time he was young, he also operated heavy equipment and was known as a “heck of a cat skinner.” He was very artistic and a bit of a “non-conformist.” He graduated from Washington High School and accepted an athletic scholarship to Augustana College. At 6’3 and 220 pounds, he played lineman in football and made All State Tackle in 1962. His coach was quoted as saying, “Paul was the most independent, proud type of kid you could have…who never complained and always worked hard.” He was also known for his “complete frankness and honesty.” He left college to join in the Marines in 1966, since according to his childhood friend and neighbor, Loren Murren, Paul had always been interested in the military and particularly in the Marine Corps.

Paul Olynn Evans enlisted in the Marine Corps in Sioux Falls on February 8, 1966. He went to boot camp in San Diego. While there, Paul “was awarded the Spirit of America for physical fitness, a coveted Marine accomplishment” and was named Honor Man among the 85 new Marine recruits and was raised in rank to a Private First Class as a result. He then had further infantry training and became a “3.5 rocket launcher in the weapons platoon of the 3rd Battalion, 26 Marines.” From there LCPL Evans was sent to the Philippines for his jungle training, then to Vietnam, and then back to the Philippines but returned to Vietnam in early December of 1966. The letters he sent home were always said to be “light and often humorous”; his mother said, “He knew what was going on, but he didn’t want us to worry about him.” After not hearing from him for a time, his parents received a reassuring letter from him—just prior to receiving the telegram that he’d been killed.

Lance Corporal Paul Olynn Evans was killed in action during Operation Chinook on December 22, 1966, in Quang Tri Province in South Vietnam while defending “a small temporary compound against a North Vietnamese Army ground attack.” Evans fired the 3.5 rocket launcher during the attack and “repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire.”

His body was brought home to the U.S. and was buried at the Hills of Rest in Sioux Falls with military honors. His many friends, classmates, and fellow Marines attended his funeral and burial. At his funeral, the minister said, “Paul nursed no illusions about his war. He knew of its cruelty, anguish, pain, and distress. He knew that danger lurked everywhere. That life out there hung by a grim thread. Yet he went willingly, he went knowingly…we honor his memory for his courage and his dedication and we dare not fail him.”

Right after Paul’s death, the Marines renamed their position “Camp Evans” in honor of Paul. Eventually Camp Evans expanded, first as a Marine camp and then as the Headquarters, 1st Cavalry Division, and then again until it was “one of the most important U.S. combat bases in I Corps, housing major units of the 101st Airborne Division, the 18th Evacuation Hospital, the 158th Assault Helicopter Company, as well as numerous other aviation, artillery, transportation, communications, and supply units.” His family was invited to the ceremony when Camp Evans was officially christened.

On the Vietnam Veterans Memorial website, Paul is remembered by several teammates, childhood friends, and fellow Marines. One, John Jacobson, wrote, “I knew Paul before Kindergarten. He was indeed a gentle giant who left behind far more friends than he would ever know….every time I think of the war, I think of him—we loved you, Paul.” A teammate at Augustana College, Gary Sandbo, wrote, “I’m glad I knew him and am sorry that such a promising life was ended far too soon.” And William P. (Doc) Miller wrote, “Our battalion set up a perimeter…you were our first KIA. It happened while the enemy were trying to test our lines of defense. There was lots of shooting and mortar fire all around us….You were a good, hard fighting Marine.”

At the time of his death he was survived by his father, his mother, and his younger sister. All have since passed away. He is survived only by his niece, Erin Neilsen, and his nephew, Evan Neilsen. His mother had said at the time of his death: “He was a fine boy and a fine son.”

 

The entry was respectfully entered by Tobias C. Hubbard, 8th grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota on October 11, 2005. Information for this entry was provided by an application for a SD veteran’s bonus, the Argus Leader, January 1, 1967, issue and <http://www.vvmf.org/>. Additional information was provided by Loren Murren, a close friend and neighbor to Paul Evans, and House Commemoration No. 1007. (P/S/F/A 5/31/06)

 


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