Alumna’s first book shares story of lost U.S. warship

A Penn State alumna’s first book, “American Boys: The True Story of the Lost 74,” was released this summer, quickly jumping into a list of the top 100 best-selling books online and, ironically, completing an unintentional Penn State connection to a somewhat unknown story related to the Vietnam War.

“American Boys” (2014, Pennway Books) shares the true story of the USS Frank E. Evans, the only U.S. warship lost in the Vietnam War and the ongoing effort to memorialize the 74 men killed in the tragedy that was the Navy’s second largest loss of life during that war. 

Author Louise (Cannon) Esola earned her journalism degree from Penn State in 2000. In the 452-page “American Boys,” her reporting and writing skills shine through. The book has earned ample critical acclaim. For example, Tony Perry of The Los Angeles Times called it a “classic story of men and war.” 

It’s also a story that’s been told with success by two Penn Staters in recent months. 

Alumna Anna Orso, who earned her journalism degree in May, focused on part of the story of the USS Frank E. Evans when she met family members of the deceased servicemen in Washington, D.C. Orso was completing an on-the-spot news assignment as part of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation’s Journalism Awards Program individual national championships. The story was part of a portfolio that helped Orso win the championship -- and lead Penn State to its third consecutive overall championship.

Read the story here. 

While working on the piece, Orso interviewed Esola and they discovered their connection. Orso works for PA Media Group, which publishes and the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Esola’s work has been featured in numerous publications, including UT San Diego, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Associated Press. A Philadelphia native, she lives in southern California with her husband and children.

Last Updated September 02, 2014