From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

David Purdon, Jr. '40

Date of birth: September 7, 1916

Date of death: October 27, 1950

Age: 34

Lucky Bag

From the 1940 Lucky Bag:


David was lost in a crash of an AJ-1 Savage immediately following takeoff from USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV 42) near Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The crash also killed another crewman. The bombardier/navigator was able to escape and was rescued.

He was survived by his wife, Blanche Blanche Tallulah Grantham, who lived in Norfolk at the time. They were married on 10/27/1943 in Duval, Florida.

From Find A Grave:

How very grateful I am to have found this memorial! David Purdon passed away with my uncle, Edward Barrett while on an exercise with the US Navy in 1950. My father forever mourned his only brothers passing. I only wish I could have shared with him the information I have been able to find and given him some peace. The circumstances surrounding this accident have been somewhat of a mystery and my family has long spoken of this "unknown" soldier that passed along with our uncle Ed. I hope that they were good friends. Rest in peace, David Purdon. Its nice to have a picture of you and will hold you in a place of honor in our hearts. Kimberly Barrett Johnson, June 2, 2015

There is a video of the incident:

Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

June 1940

Ensign, USS Richmond

November 1940

Ensign, USS Richmond

April 1941

Ensign, USS Richmond

Class of 1940

David is one of 91 members of the Class of 1940 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of the alumni in Memorial Hall.