Evan White Yancey was born on 21 August 1907, in Owenton, Kentucky, son of W. L. Yancey and the late Mrs. Bettie Sherfy Yancey. He attended Georgetown (Kentucky) College for two years before his appointment to the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, from his native state in 1927. As a Midshipman he participated in wrestling. Graduated and commissioned Ensign on 4 June 1931, he subsequently attained the rank of Captain, to date from 1 January 1951.
Following graduation from the Naval Academy in 1931, he joined USS Tattnall in which he served as a junior officer, six months each in Engineering, Gunnery, Navigation and Torpedoes. Detached from that destroyer in May 1933, he had instruction at the Ford Instrument Company, Long Island, New York, and in July of the same year reported as Plotting Room Officer aboard USS Mississippi. Transferred in August 1934 to USS Concord, he served as Second Division Officer and Torpedo and Catapult Officer in that cruiser until May 1937, and continued duty afloat for a year thereafter in USS Wyoming, as “C” Division Officer and Assistant Navigator.
He assumed command in June 1938 of USS Eagle 55, and had additional duty as Special Instructor of Naval Reserves. In July 1939 he reported for a tour of shore duty as Assistant Ordnance Officer of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York, NY. In April 1940 he joined USS Clemson as Executive Officer, and when the United States entered World War II, was commanding that destroyer. He was entitled to the Ribbon for, and a facsimile of, the Presidential Unit Citation awarded Six Anti-Submarine Task Groups of which the Clemson was a unit. The citation follows in part:
“For extraordinary heroism in action against enemy submarines in the Atlantic Area in 1943 and 1944. Carrying out powerful and sustained offensive action during a period of heavy German undersea concentrations threatening our uninterrupted flow of supplies to the European theater of operations, these Six Anti-Submarine Task Groups tracked the enemy packs relentlessly…The gallantry and superb teamwork of the officers and men…were largely instrumental in forcing the complete withdrawal of enemy submarines from supply routes essential to the maintenance of our established military supremacy.”
In July 1943 he reported as Commander Escort Division ONE, and for “exceptionally meritorious conduct…as Screen Commander of a United States Atlantic Fleet Anti-Submarine Task Group from July 9 to December 29, 1943…” he was awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat “V.” The citation continues in part:
“In one of the two vigorous attacks launched against a hostile U-boat by several aircraft and all of the escorts, Commander Yancey by his determined initiative and skill, aided immeasurably in conducting effective searches which relocated the escaping enemy vessel and was a directly instrumental in effecting the ultimate destruction of this vital unit of the German Navy.”
Between March and May 1944 he commanded Destroyer Squadron FIFTY SEVEN, and for two months following served as Commander Escort Division SEVENTY ONE. In September 1944 he transferred to a similar command, Escort Division NINE, and continued as Screen Commander of that unit until May 1945.
A student (Command Course) at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, from June through November 1945, he assumed command in December of USS Vanadis. In May 1946 he was transferred to USS Whitley, and served as her Commanding Officer for a year. From July 1947 to May 1950 he served in the Bureau of Ordnance, Navy Department, first as Gun, Turret and Missile Launcher, later as Head of the Material and Planning Section.
In June 1950 he reported as Chief of the US Naval Mission to Ecuador with headquarters at Quinto. He remained there until June 1953, and in July of that year assumed command of USS Everglades. Under orders of 29 December 1954, he then served as Inspector of Naval Material, Detroit, Michigan.
In addition to the Legion of Merit with Combat “V”, and the Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon with two stars, Captain Yancey had the American Defense Service Medal; the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four engagement stars; the World War II Victory Medal; and the National Defense Service Medal.