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New Coast Guard Ship Honors WWII Hero In Key West

Nancy Klingener

A World War II hero will be honored when the Coast Guard's newest cutter is commissioned into service in Key West on Sept. 6.

The 154-foot ship is named after Raymond Evans, who received the Navy Cross for rescuing Marines during the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942.

Evans, who eventually retired as a commander in the Coast Guard, died last year. His widow is the official sponsor for the ship and will be represented at the ceremony by their grandson, says Stanley Rzad, chairman of the Key West Navy League commissioning committee.

Commissioning the ship is different from its christening, which is when the ship is given its name. It is part of a long-standing military tradition, Rzad says.

"The ship is brought to life and becomes part of the assets of the United States," he says. "Literally, as soon as it's commissioned, it could receive orders and go out and do its mission immediately."

The Raymond Evans is one of six new Sentinel-class cutters that will be homeported in Key West. The Charles David, Jr., the Charles Sexton and the Kathleen Moore have already been commissioned. The new cutters are replacing the 110-foot island-class cutters that underwent a failed retrofit and are being phased out of service.

Charles W. David, Jr., died of pneumonia after rescuing victims of a German U-boat attack off of Greenland in World War II. Charles W. Sexton died in 1991 when he was trapped in a fishing boat that overturned during a rescue in the Pacific off the northwestern U.S. coast. Kathleen Moore was a lighthouse keeper in Connecticut for 72 years in the 19th century.

Rzad says the names carried by the Sentinel-class cutters "cover the spectrum of military wars and engagements of our country, which is all embodied by the various ships and what they stand for."