Rate /Rank: Seaman First Class

Son of Erskine and Viola Pardew

Born: December 10, 1924, Ronda, North Carolina

Oscar Walter Pardew was born on Dec. 10, 1924 to Erskine and Viola Pardew on a 50-acre tobacco farm in the foothills of North Carolina. He was the third child of six. He spent his boyhood doing farm chores, climbing trees, playing baseball, swimming in the creek and going into town with his siblings. Oscar was adventurous, outgoing and popular with the girls.

His evening chore was to bring in the firewood the family used for cooking and heating the home. Oscar typically hurried through his chores so that he would be finished in time to listen to the Lone Ranger on the radio.

As a child Oscar had trouble pronouncing certain words. One day he told a girl that she was "as pretty as a blossom." The girl misunderstood him and reported to the teacher or principal that Oscar has said "pretty as a possum." Oscar was called to the principal's office but was later dismissed by a laughing principal when Oscar explained what he had actually said.

As a teenager, Oscar and his brother Bob would walk, run or hitchhike into the town of Elkin to "see and be seen" and to go to the movies. Oscar played basketball for the Ronda High School team and wore the #8.

One of his first jobs was to drive the school bus in his community. At the end of 10th grade, Oscar left home to be independent, take some trade classes and begin working. He got a job as a roofer putting on roofs for the military barracks.

Oscar came home that fall and enlisted in the Navy on Dec. 14, 1942. He was 18. He followed his older brother, Ward who was in the Army Air Forces, and he would be followed by his younger brother, Bob, two years later. He came from a long line of veterans, including his father who was a WWI veteran and a grandfather, Joe Pardew, who served in the U.S. Army Calvary.

Oscar went to boot camp at the Naval Training Station at Great Lakes, Illinois. Because of a constant sore throat, he ended up having his tonsils taken out while he was there. After boot camp, he volunteered for the armed guard division and spent a 10-day leave at home that spring. Oscar went to gunnery training in Gulfport, Miss. He boarded the SS Samuel Heintzelman in Charleston, S.C. in the early summer of 1943. His job aboard the ship was a gunner's mate striker.

Letters home were cherished by his family. The last letter Oscar wrote to his mother was on June 23, 1943. He wrote about the ocean being so vast and that he was "fine and getting plenty to eat."

"It's sort of like the road to Mandalay where the flying fishes play."

"We look on the right and what do we see? Ha. Yes, we see water. And then we glance over on our left and what do we see? More water. Well, let's glance dead ahead and see what we can see. More water. We might as well take a look back aft and see what we can locate back there. Water. Water. Water."

Oscar's family was notified by telegram that his ship was missing on Saturday, August 21, 1943. His death was not confirmed until after the War ended.

In Oscar's memory a bronze marker was laid at the Primitive Baptist Church in State Road, NC between the foot markers of his parent's graves. The marker was laid by his brother, Bob and his nephew, Keith, who is an Army veteran.

Oscar's name is on a monument in front of the old courthouse in Wilkesboro, N.C. honoring all county men killed in a U.S. war. His name is also listed on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines.



Oscar Walter Pardew


Aug. 43 ~ Telegram from Navy ~ 'Missing in Action'

Sept. 43 ~ Letter from Navy ~ 
'no further information'

June, 44 ~ Letter from Navy ~ 
'name of ship'

July 44 ~ Letter from Navy ~ 'continued missing status'

Jan 46 ~ Secretary of Navy ~ 'presumed deceased'

Mar. 46 ~ Letter from Navy ~ 'Heintzelman information'

Mar. 47 ~ Veterans  Administration ~
Notice of Settlement

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Bronze marker

Biography provided by 
Keith Pardew, nephew, and
written by Jada Pardew Banks, 
niece of Oscar Pardew.

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