Sophomore reaches State for the fifth time in history contest

Sophomore Hannah Ackerman

On March 22, sophomore Hannah Ackerman participated in the 2012 National History Day Competition at the Grout Museum and was selected to move on to the State level. The competition will be held next month in Des Moines.

Ackerman began competing in 2008 when she was twelve,
and each year she has qualified for State. She chose to enter these competitions because she loves history and it was an extracurricular at school.

The theme for this year’s History Day Competition is “Revolution, Reaction, and Reform in History”; all projects must fit this theme. Students have the option to enter in five different categories, including Individual/Group Performance, Documentary, Exhibit, Website and Historical Paper. Ackerman chooses to do Individual Performance each year because she loves acting and telling history.
Ackerman’s qualifying performance this year is a dramatic play called “There are no Boundary Lines for Heroes. The USS Frank E. Evans and the Lost 74. Lest We Forget.” This is a story of the tragic Evans’ 1969 accident during the Vietnam War. 74 men were killed when the ship was severed in half. Ackerman explains in detail what her performance is about:

“The USS Frank E. Evans was a naval destroyer sent by our
government to Vietnam to serve and protect this country. The Evans had
just been on a long bombing mission in Vietnam within the War Zone
when it was sent shortly afterward to participate in War exercises
with 40 other ships from other countries in Operation Sea Spirit. An
Australian Aircraft Carrier, the HMAS Melbourne, led the group. On
June 3rd 1969 at 3:15 AM most of the Evans Crewmen were sleeping.
During a change of station maneuvers the Evans and Melbourne ships
collided. The Evans was cut in half. 74 Evans crewmen were pulled down
into the sea with the bow (front of the ship), and killed. On board
was a father and son who were serving together. The father survived
the accident; the son tragically did not. Also on board were three
brothers from Nebraska: Gary, Gregory, and Kelly Jo Sage. All three of
the Sage brothers died. The names of the 74 crewmen known as ‘The Lost
74’ were never allowed to be inscribed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in
Washington, D.C. Today the Evans association works hard to continue to
try to get the names on the wall,” said Ackerman.

Ackerman was drawn to the Evans story because she learned about the accident and got to know them personally when she performed her WWII play at the Five Sullivan Brothers during their 19th annual association reunion.

The ship’s association, the USS Frank E. Evans Association, made Ackerman their youngest member. Steve Kraus is vice president of the association and helped to make Hannah a member.

“Hannah has been interested in our ship, its members and the story behind the collision ever since I first talked with her. Our membership is open to any one who: (A) Promote camaraderie among shipmates, family and friends of shipmates who served aboard the USS Frank E. Evans DD-754, as well as others with similar interest, (B) Promote a spirit of national patriotism, (C) Help assure that the history of the USS Frank E. Evans DD-754 is maintained, (D) Conduct research, communicate, appropriately publicize, help commemorate the deceased and those lost at sea, through timely ceremonies, publicity and memorials. As you can see Hannah does promote the objectives and purpose of our association,” said Kraus.

Kraus also sent a note out to all members about Hannah moving on to State, and she will be featured in the next newsletter.

Military Author Radio, an Internet radio program about military authors or subjects, spoke about Ackerman and her Evans play on a recent show. Ackerman was also featured about her Sullivan Brothers play during the holiday season. She will be calling the station soon to update them on her upcoming state competition. The Military Author Radio program host also owns a book publishing company and is having Ackerman put together her experiences about performing the Sullivan Brothers play. They will then publish a mini-history booklet about it. More information can be found on and

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