Don Perdew

Eldon & Pam Perdew 

Football all 4 Years, Class Numerals Plebe Year and Monogram Cow Year.


Cullum No. 23943-1962 | January 24, 1985 | Died in Reno, NV

 Interment not reported to WPAOG.



Eldon Lee “Don” Perdew was born in Hastings, NE, the youngest son of Charlotte and Lawrence Perdew, a heavy equipment operator. Don grew up in a closeknit, hardworking family with four older brothers: Bill, Jim, Charles “Chuck,” and Larry. Bill and Jim are now deceased, but Chuck and Larry are living in Lincoln, NE.

Don excelled in academics and sports. A natural leader, he captained the football team (and was an All State selectee), was on the Student Council, attended Boys State, received a Rotary Award and was his class vice president. Don was a perfect appointee: he had outstanding potential to be an Army officer and he could play football.

At West Point, Don was unflappable. His quick but kind sense of humor and his exceptional intellect seemed to make academics, athletics, and cadet life easy for him. Always cheerful, Don drew a wide circle of friends. Many F2 companymates and his classmates sought Don’s advice.

Don was eager to play football for Army, but Army had many top quarterbacks. Nevertheless, Don played on the “B” Squad for four years, earning his numerals and monogram. During First Class year, Don was a cadet captain and training officer for the 2nd Regiment. His F2 company mates selected him as their Honor Committee representative.

In 1961, Don was the cadet XO of Camp Buckner. Classmate Jim Kays, the camp commander, recalled Don’s ability to solve the tough problems, such as securing the speedboats that GEN and Mrs. Westmoreland especially enjoyed. The boats often were the target of late night pranks by the yearlings.

Don chose the Infantry, attending the Basic Course and Ranger School at Ft. Benning, GA, prior to his joining the 504th Airborne Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division, at Ft. Bragg, NC. He subsequently received Airborne and Jumpmaster wings and then, in 1964, assumed command of a company in the 504th.

Don then attended the Defense Language Institute at Monterey, CA, where he studied Czech and lived in an apartment on Casanova Street. Also living on that street were Scott McGurk, an F2 classmate and former roommate, as well as Pamela Hanscom, who would become Don’s soul mate and special love. The couple from Casanova Street had a wonderful and exciting courtship, leading to their marriage on 24 April 1965 in the beautiful Presidio of Monterey Chapel with Scott in attendance.

After leaving Monterey in 1965 and attending the Special Warfare School, Don joined A Company, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), in Bad Tolz, Germany. In 1966, he was sent to Viet Nam, serving in Headquarters Company, 5th Special Forces Group.

While Don was in Viet Nam, his first daughter, Laura Anne, was born on 11 Dec at Ft. Ord, CA. Laura is now a business owner living in Camas, WA, with her husband Leonard Hanna and children Nicholas (12), Jake (10), and Kaden (5). The children often peruse Don’s high school and military memorabilia, asking Pam with amazement and pride about all that Don had done in the Army.

Upon his return from Viet Nam, Don commanded A Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Training Brigade, at Ft. Benning. In 1969, he attended the Infantry Officers Career Course there, and on 4 Apr 1969, Don’s second daughter, Kathleen Tracy, was born. Kathleen is now an Emergency Medical Technician living in Vancouver, WA.

Don was selected to return to West Point to teach in the Department of Earth, Space, and Graphic Sciences. To prepare, he attended the University of Southern California at Los Angeles, earning a master’s degree in geology.

Back at West Point, Don was an assistant professor and, later, an associate professor and director of the Planetary Science Program, as well as the director of Advanced Individual Study in Environment. He was an officer in charge of the cadet Geology Club, coach for West Point Youth Basketball, and coauthor of the 2nd edition of the Atlas of Landforms (Wiley, 1974). Additionally, he taught Physical Science at Orange County Community College.

In 1974, Don began two years in command of the 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division in Korea. Upon his return, he was the recruiting division operations officer at the Army Southeastern Recruiting Command in Ft. Gillem, GA, before attending the Armed Forces Staff College later that year.

From 1977 to 1978, Don was the training officer at Headquarters, Sixth Army, at the Presidio of San Francisco. In 1978, he was assigned as the executive officer of the 3rd Brigade, 9th Infantry Division, Ft. Lewis, WA, commanded by Bill Carpenter ’60, Army’s “Lonely End” on the 1958 Army football team. At Ft. Lewis, Don and Pam also renewed their friendship with Scott McGurk, an Infantry brigade executive officer.

Pam remembers Ft. Lewis as especially wonderful. Don bought their daughters beautiful Arabian horses, the family joined the stables, and Don became president of the Riding Club. In 1980, when Don was assigned as the professor of military science at the University of Reno, the family took the horses with them and started breeding their own Arabians.

Don retired in Reno on 31 Oct 1984 as a lieutenant colonel, receiving the Meritorious Service Medal for more than 22 years of faithful service. He had previously received two Meritorious Service Medals, the Silver Star, Bronze Star, the Republic of Viet Nam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation Badge with palm, and the Army Commendation Medal.

Don died in Reno on 24 Jan 1985. At his memorial service, Pam reflected on their life, reminiscing about their many friends in the Army family. Pam indicated that Don was highly respected in the military, as he was in the civilian community, and that he had a way of drawing people to him. He will always be remembered as a wonderful husband and devoted father, brother, classmate, friend, and soldier, who lived the ideals of “Duty, Honor, Country.”

We love Don and will always miss him.

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