Ernest Edwin Evans was born on august 13, 1906, in Pawnee, Oklahoma. He graduated from Central High School in Muskogee, Oklahoma and on May 29, 1926 enlisted in the U.S. Navy. After a year's service as an enlisted man, he was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis Maryland, from the Navy at large and entered as a Midshipman on June 29, 1927.
Ernest Edwin Evans graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy on June 4, 1931 with the degree of Bachelor of Science and commissioned Ensign in the U.S. Navy. Ernest E. Evans attained the rank of Commander. Ernest E. Evans served in USS COLORADO, USS ROPER, and USS RATHBURNE. Later, Evans joined the USS PENSACOLA. Following service in USS PENSACOLA, continued sea duty and served successively in USS CHAMOUNT, USS CAHOKIA and USS BLACKHAWK.
On August 9, 1941, Evans joined the USS ALDEN, and was serving in that destroyer at the outbreak of World War II in December of that year. Evans assumed command of USS ALDEN on March 14, 1942 and continued as her commanding officer until July y, 1943. Evans was then ordered to duty of fitting out the USS JOHNSTON at the Seattle-Tacoma shipbuilding Corporation, Seattle, Washington. Assuming command of JOHNSTON at her commissioning, 27 October 1943, he commanded her during her entire service.
Commander Ernest E. Evans was in command of USS JOHNSTON on 25 October 1944 during the Battle Off Samar, Philippine Islands. Commander Evans was awarded the Navy Cross, later recalled and replaced by the Medal of Honor, awarded by Congress. The citation which accompanied the Medal of Honor follows;
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of USS JOHNSTON, in action against major units of the enemy Japanese Fleet during the Battle Off Samar on 25 October 1944. The first to lay smoke screen and to open fire as an enemy task force vastly superior in number, firepower and armor rapidly approached, Commander Evans gallantly diverted the powerful blasts of hostile guns from the lightly armed and armored carriers under his protection, launching the first torpedo attack then the JOHNSTON came under straddling shell fire. Undaunted by damage sustained under the terrific volume of fire, he unhesitatingly joined others of his group to provide fire support during subsequent torpedo attacks against the Japanese and, out-shooting and out-maneuvering the enemy as he consistently interposed his vessel between the hostil Fleet units and our carriers despite the crippling loss of engine power and communications with steering aft, shifted command to the fantail, shouted steering orders through an open hatch to men turning the rudder by hand and battled furiously until the JOHNSTON burning and shuddering from a mortal blow, lay dead in the wter after three hours of fierce combat. Seriously wounded early in the engagement, Commander Evans, by his indomitable courage and brilliant professional skill, aided materially in turning back the enemy during a critical phase of the action. His valiant fighting spirit throughout his historic battle will endure as an inspiration to all who served with him.
In addition to the Congressional Medal of Honor, Commander Evans was entitled to the following medals; Bronze Star, Purple Heart Medal, Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, China Service Medal, American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with six engagement stars, the World War II Victory Medal and the Philippine Defense and Liberation Ribbons with one star.
A destroyer escort vessel, the USS EVANS, DE 1023, WAS BUILT IN HONOR OF Commander Ernest E. Evans and was launched on September 14, 1955, in Seattle Washington.