Chester Statun
Petty Officer Third Class
USS RANGER, TF 77, 7TH FLEET
United States Navy
Houston, Texas
July 04, 1943 to April 13, 1965
CHESTER STATUN is on the Wall at Panel 5E, Line 43

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Chester Statun
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NOTE: Charles Statun/Staten had his name engraved on the Wall on Mother's Day, May 10, 2015 instead of May 2014. The delay was due to surname questions. Military records show he was known as Statun while relatives used the surname of Staten. At the request of the family, his name was engraved as Staten on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. He was honored at the 2014 ceremony, but his name was officially engraved on Mother's Day, 2015.

The Virtual Wall continues to list his name as the name he enlisted, served, and died under, Charles Statun. His name is listed on our Panel/Line Index page as Charles Statun at Panel 05E, Line 043.

Photo of Machinist Mate 3 Chester Statun in his Service Dress Blue uniform

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During the Vietnam War there was no overriding reason to keep close track of names of the men and women who died as a result of military service in the war zone. A decade after the withdrawal of US forces, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was approved for construction. The service branches went back through their records to identify our dead by name.

Inevitably some men who should have been named on the "Wall" were not. Over the years additional names have been inscribed on the Wall - some were men who died after the war as a result of wounds received in the war, and others were men whose names were overlooked in earlier years.

At the time of the 1940 census, Allen and Lillie Statun and his family were living in Rayville, Louisiana, next door to Chester and Laura Statun, Allen's parents, and Chester's grandparents. The only child at that time was was Bettie L, a 4 year old daughter. Chester Statun was born to Essie B and Allen Statun (now Staten) on July 4th, 1943. Chester's sister said, that as far back as she could remember, the family name was Staten. Chester enlisted in Rayville or Monroe, Louisiana according to her. She also noted he lived in Rayville all his life until he went into the Navy.

Statun originally enlisted in the delayed entry program, usually 120 days. He was technically in the Naval Reserves during this time at home in Rayville. He had orders to report to Houston, 350 miles away, at the end of the 120 days for processing on active duty. Upon reporting and processing, he was discharged from the reserves and sworn into the regular Navy. It's believed, based on his age and date of processing, 29 June 62, he had graduated high school and then went on active duty.

Upon completion of Basic and other necessary training, he was assigned to the USS Ranger as a machinist's mate in the #1 Main Machine Room, operated by the M Division of the ship. The men of M Division provided the human link between the engine order telegraph on the bridge and the power cable producing the speed indicated by opening the ship's throttle to admit steam to the main engines, then they condensed that steam back into water and sent it back to the boilers to be used afresh. Owing to the high pressures, high temperatures, and rapid speed changes required, these men tackled their jobs with great skill and efficiency. Below is a photo of the M Division crewmembers taken from page 218 of USS Ranger's 1964-'65 Cruise Book:

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The photo below shows Machinist's Mate, Petty Officer 3rd Class Statun in his work area of the #1 Main Machinery Room (MMR), date unknown.

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At 1122 on 13 Apr 1965 the Officer of the Day (OOD) of the USS Ranger logged a reported fire in #1 Main Machine Room (MMR). The ship went first to fire stations and then to General Quarters. Heavy smoke caused evacuation of several areas on the ship from Engineering all the way up to the O-3 level. The fire was reported out at 1420.

At 1440 the Officer of the Day made the following handwritten entry, in all capitals: "1440 RECEIVED REPORT THAT THE BODY OF STATUN, C. (n), [598 89 43.], FN, USN, WAS FOUND IN UPPER LEVEL OF COMPARTMENT 7-106-0-E. STATUN WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD ON ARRIVAL IN SICKBAY, APPARANT CAUSE POISONING AND ASPHYXIATION FROM INHALATION OF TOXIC SUBSTANCE IN FUEL OIL SMOKE."

The cause of death was changed via a Corrected Casualty Report to show the following entry: "Identified 13 April 1965 on Board USS Ranger (CVA-61) ; Results of asphyxiation and burns sustained due to fire in #1 main engine room. Posthumously promoted to MM3 in accordance with Chapter 77 of Title 10, USC. No increase in monetary benefits are payable by reason of this promotion. "

Sixteen of Statun's shipmates were treated for various fire related injuries.

At the time of the incident, Ranger was operating on Yankee Station off of Vietnam in company with USS Midway and USS Coral Sea.

The parents of MM3 Chester Statun, Essie Bell Statun and Allen Statun (family surname today is Staten) were notified of their son's death while still living on Route 3, Box #, Rayville Louisiana. Shortly thereafter, Chester's death was announced in the area papers, such as the Kingston Daily Freeman:

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Another area paper had a slightly different version:

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Chester was laid to rest at Holly Ridge Baptist Church, 1540 Louisiana 584, Rayville. Both parents have passed away as well according to a recent obituary for the death of a maternal grandson, Darious Roshern Smith. His mother, Joyce 'Joy' Staten Smith was the sister of Charles Statun/Staten.

Records show Allen Staten passed away January 1, 1968 at the age of 49. No record of when Essie (Lillie) Bell Statun/Staten passed. One record shows his sister, Bettie L passed away in 1977 but that is unconfirmed.

According to one interviewer of one of his 3 surviving sisters at the 2014 honor ceremony, there were ten children in the family, five boys and five girls. All ten had the same mother; seven had the same father.

- - - The Virtual Wall, May 16, 2015


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