Coast Guard Admiral Stika Gave His Own Navy Cross to Chief Signalman Ray Evans

Coast Guard signalman Ray Evans was attached to the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division at the battle of Guadalcanal during WWII. When US Marines under the command of Chesty Puller needed evacuation, Evans volunteered, knowing his Higgins Boat was to draw the fire of Japanese. He used his machine gun to assist in the evacuation. The act was successful and many Marine lives were saved. What he didn’t know at the time, was that Coast Guard Admiral Stika was about to “pay it forward.”

Coast Guard Admiral Stika, 1918, New Jersey

Then Coast Guard 1st Lieutenant Joseph Stika received a Navy Cross back in 1918 when the T.A. Gillespie Munitions yard in Morgan, New Jersey erupted in explosions for two days.

Stika, then a Coast Guard first lieutenant (which the Coast Guard used to have), led a team of five Coast Guardsmen and two soldiers into the explosions to secure and remove ordnance before it could go off. For two days, they repaired rail lines and drove trains out of the blaze, sometimes while the trains themselves were on fire or within burning areas.

It was one of the largest ordnance activities in America at the time, handling 10 percent of all artillery shells used by American forces at the Western front. When the first explosions started, they triggered a chain reaction that turned the entire area into a Hellscape, detonating more explosives and spreading unexploded ordnance across the surrounding area.

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1st Lieutenant Stika and 12 other Coast Guard members earned a Navy cross for their actions that October. Stika rose through the ranks to Vice Admiral and was placed in command of the Coast Guard training station at Alameda.

Chief Signalman Ray Evans, 1942, Guadalcanal

stika
Coast Guardsmen and sailors unload supplies at Guadalcanal in support of the U.S. Marine Corps. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Evans, along with his friend Douglas Munro, volunteered to provide covering fire for an extraction of a US Marine Unit that was trapped behind enemy lines. The extraction went well until a boat got stuck on a beach. As Evans and Munro towed the boat off the beach, a Japanese machine gunner opened fire. Munro was struck in the head and died- he was the only Coast Guard member to receive the Medal Of Honor for that battle. Evans returned fire and continued to fire until the action was completed.

Ray Evans came down with Malaria and was sent home to recover. During that time, Admiral Stika put him in for the Navy Cross, but the medal never arrived. The Admiral took his own Navy Cross from 1918 and pinned it on Chief Signalman Ray Evans.

Admiral Stika passed away in 1976. In addition to the Navy Cross from 1918, while commanding the USS Seneca in 1934, he received a commendation from the government of Sweden for his service during a rescue mission involving the Swedish vessel af Chapman.

Ray Evans went on to complete his Coast Guard service, retiring in 1962 as a Commander. He passed away in 2013. His awards included: Navy Cross, a Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon with 1 battle star, a Commandant’s Letter, the American Defense Service Medal with one battle star, the American Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with five battles stars, and the Coast Guard Good Conduct Medal.

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Featured photo: L- Admiral Stika, R- Chief Signalman Ray Evans

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