Native of Virginia and Bronze Star recipient buried in Seven Pines National Cemetery

A photo and remains of Army Nurse Corps First Lt. Mary Pardue lie on a table ahead of services for her in Sandston on June 10, 2022. (Kate Kimmel for the Henrico Citizen)

Veterans, first responders and community members from Henrico County gathered at Seven Pines National Cemetery in Sandston on June 10 to celebrate the life and legacy of First Lt. Mary Pardue, Army Nurse Corps, whose service in World War II earned him a Bronze Star Medal.

In Viareggio, Italy, in November 1944, Pardue displayed bravery and heroism in the face of wounded soldiers while the field hospital where she served came under enemy fire. Through the chaos and fear that consumed the tent, Pardue remained devoted to duty and restored order.

Pardue was born on June 21, 1919 in Coburn, Virginia and died on July 1, 2019 in Duluth, Minnesota shortly after her 100th birthday. The ceremony was originally scheduled to be held in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused its delay.

His Bronze Star citation, dated December 12, 1944, contains this account of his bravery:

“After fragments of an exploded shell penetrated the tent and instantly killed a patient, [she] went from patient to patient, attending to them in a calm and reassuring manner to maintain control and order throughout the bombardment…she remained on duty the rest of the night tending to her patients. Her heroism and devotion to duty exemplify the high traditions of the Army Nurse Corps.

Like many veterans who witnessed the terror of war, Pardue found it painful to recall memories of his service, the author of his obituary wrote. Despite this, she accepted the value of sharing her story with others and helped preserve the history of World War II.

“Over the past 20 or so years, she has finally spoken about her experiences and left both a videotaped interview with Century High School in Bismarck, ND and an oral interview with the St. Louis Oral History Project County Veterans Hall,” reads his obituary. .

Pardue was buried alongside her father, William, a Navy veteran, and her brother, Harry, who was held as a prisoner of war by German forces after his plane was shot down during World War II. Although his surviving relatives were unable to attend the ceremony in person, more than 100 people gathered to honor his life and service.

“It was an incredible turnout,” said Michael T. Faust, director of the National Cemetery Administration.

The dark ceremony unfolded beautifully. As an honor guard of police, firefighters and Henrico’s sheriff presented the colors, director of Henrico’s band, Randy Abernathy, tap danced.

Two soldiers then graciously folded an American flag to send to Pardue’s daughter and only child, Dr. Lisa Abrahams.

Todd Holman, Program Support Assistant for the National Cemetery Administration, read aloud Pardue’s bronze medal certificate. Attendees then bowed their heads as a blessing was read over Pardue’s ashes, and after a moment of silence the ceremony ended.

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