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The Lost 74 by Randy Henderson

Randy Henderson, brother of Terry Lee Henderson, RD3 Vietnam War Veteran: FENTON HISTORY CENTER HOSTS PRESENTATION ON VIETNAM’S “LOST 74”Post Journal, April 20, 2017:  Chautauqua County residents visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., shouldn’t expect to find the name of Mayville native Terry Lee Henderson adorning its wall any time soon.

Pictured: Randy Henderson, brother of Terry Lee Henderson, discusses the incident that claimed his brother’s life in the South China Sea on June 3, 1969. P-J photo by Gavin Paterniti

Despite a unified and consistent push from a U.S. Senator and the families of 74 sailors lost to a tragic training exercise accident that occurred in the South China Sea in 1969 during the Vietnam War, there is still a long road ahead for advocates of the “Lost 74.”

In the early morning hours of June 3, 1969, the USS Frank E. Evans, a naval destroyer, upon which Henderson was serving as a radar-man, collided with an Australian aircraft carrier during an international joint naval exercise. However, because the tragedy took place outside of the official Vietnamese combat zone, the crew was deemed ineligible for inclusion on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Terry Lee Henderson

On Wednesday, the Fenton History Center, via its Vets Finding Vets program, hosted a presentation on the incident and subsequent progress of the national effort to have the names of the “Lost 74” added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The presentation was attended by a handful of local veterans and community members, including Henderson’s mother, Mary Ann Buettner, and brother, Randy Henderson.

Randy Henderson described the events, all too familiar to him, that occurred that tragic day when his brother was lost at only 21 years old; but followed with a personal account that included his family’s realization that Terry wouldn’t be coming home.

Randy told the story of how his father had received a phone call from his grandmother later in the evening regarding the incident involving the USS Frank E. Evans after it had appeared on the news, his mother being informed of the news hours later after returning home from work, and how the family received official word from the U.S. Navy of his brother’s death two days later.

Randy was visibly emotional during several portions of the presentation, often pausing to apologize, albeit unnecessarily, and regain his composure.

“This is the first time I’ve talked about the personal side of this story and how it affected us, and it’s probably going to be the last time,”Randy said following the presentation. “You’d think that nearly 50 years later it would be easier to talk about, but it isn’t and it never will be.”

“American Boys: The True Story of the ‘Lost 74’ of the Vietnam War,” by Louise Esola is one of the many books available for sale in the Fenton History Center gift shop. Esola’s book unique, in that, it is approved by the families of the Lost 74 Soldiers of the Vietnam War. Stop in Monday through Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM to purchase your copy. Interested persons can also call (716) 664-6256 to reserve a copy by phone.

In addition to sharing the details of his personal experience with the loss of his brother and how it has affected his family, Randy spoke on behalf of the other families of the “Lost 74” soldiers of the Vietnam War. The families of the “Lost 74” meet annually and have made an active commitment to this cause. Randy Henderson also had on-hand several copies of the book “American Boys: The True Story of the ‘Lost 74’ of the Vietnam War,” by Louise Esola, for sale after his talk.

The Fenton History Center launched its Vets Finding Vets program in 2014. The program is designed to benefit both the veterans involved in the program and the history center’s genealogy library. It was founded when Barb Cessna, program coordinator, who has a strong interest in local veterans and their stories, suggested a genealogy based program for local veterans that would assist both the veterans and the center. The center provides a volunteer to assist the veterans working on either their family genealogy or non-related veterans.

For more information, or to learn about upcoming events at the Fenton History Center, visit


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