Eunice Sage was proud of her three sons, all serving in the Navy. She was happy that they were together but concerned that their serving in the same ship could have consequences she refused to think about.
The three Sage brothers were serving in the USS Frank E. Evans (DD-754), a destroyer that by all accounts was doing an exemplary job of providing naval-gunfire-support missions to Marines ashore in Vietnam. Despite that, in late May 1969, the ship was pulled off the gun line and ordered to proceed to Subic Bay, the Philippines, for replenishment and to take part in planning conferences for a multinational naval exercise. Dubbed Operation Sea Spirit, it involved 50 ships from various nations and was to take place in the South China Sea about 100 miles outside the designated Vietnam combat zone. By early June, the Evans was doing her part with the allied Task Group 472.1, which included several American, British, and New Zealand destroyers screening an Australian aircraft carrier, HMAS Melbourne.