In 1967, 25-year-old Sgt. First Class First Class Leroy Everett and nine other U.S. Army crewmen died when their helicopter crashed in South Vietnam.
Everett was an Atlantic Beach native son-turned American hero.
This week, his hometown honored him as such when the City Commission unanimously adopting a resolution naming the main road in Dutton Island Preserve “U.S. Army SFC Leroy Everett Memorial Parkway.”
“Leroy had already finished a tour in Vietnam and came back to Atlantic Beach, but he decided to re-enlist for his country. Ten days into his second tour, Leroy’s helicopter went down,” said Atlantic Beach resident Lenny Jevic, who spearheaded the effort to honor Everett.
Everett, who played as a child and practiced for high school swim meets at Dutton Island, soon will be honored with markers at the preserve west of Mayport Road.
Other Atlantic Beach natives who lost their lives serving their country had previously been honored with street and park namings; Everett is the first African-American to receive such honor in the city.
Monday’s Commission meeting was attended by eight of Everett’s family members, the fallen hero’s best friend, Calvin Brown; many of Everett’s Douglas Anderson High School classmates; and representatives of local veterans organizations.
The Commission-approved resolution reads, “The City Commission hereby directs staff to erect and proudly display suitable markers at the honorarily designated roadway to honor Atlantic Beach resident Sergeant First Class Leroy Everett, who gave his life for our country during the Vietnam War.”
Everett was born and raised on Mealy Lane in Atlantic Beach. He played as a child on Dutton Island Preserve, known locally at the time as “Girvin Island.” Later, to practice for upcoming Douglas Anderson High School swim meets, he would often jump from the Preserve’s bridge into the water.
On Dec. 19, 1967, a UH-1D from the 162nd Assault Helicopter Company sustained engine failure at an altitude of 200 foot during takeoff from Phouc Vinh Airfield loaded with troops for a practice combat assault. The tail boom struck trees and separated from the aircraft, and the main cabin hit the ground and turned over, burning on impact. Engine loss was due to fatigue failure of a blade in the turbine wheel. All 10 people aboard the helicopter suffered fatal injuries, including Everett.
Everett is forever honored on Panel 32E, Line 21 of the Vietnam Memorial Wall.