MM2c Lewis Purdie Sharon

Unknown Sailor

MM2c Lewis Purdie Sharon

Fifteen months after Lewis Purdie Sharon was killed at Pearl Harbor, his brother Miles was helping a wounded soldier on a Navy hospital ship when he noticed a tag on the man’s pants.

“Where did you get those?” he asked.

“In a salvage depot in Honolulu.”

The tag said L. P. Sharon.

Lewis Purdie Sharon was a machinist’s mate and petty officer second class when he was killed on the U.S.S. Arizona in the Japanese attack, Dec. 7, 1941.

Lewis Purdie enlisted in November 1938 and his brother in October 1940. Miles made the Navy his career, retiring as a chief hospital corpsman in 1965.

They were the sons of Louis and Elizabeth Purdy. He worked as a mechanic and then a foreman at a sugar factory. She was a homemaker and also did housework for others.

Lewis Purdie was born Jan. 5, 1915 in Santa Ana, California, a growing city of about 12,000. He graduated from Santa Ana High School in 1934 when the population, despite the Depression, was 30,000.

“He was a strong, healthy brute,” a friend, Jim Triplett, recalled years later. “He was big enough to play football, but we went to school during the Depression, when you had to work. There wasn’t time for sports.”

Mr. Sharon did enjoy football aboard the Arizona, where an undated photo, possibly from 1939, showed him as a member of the football team, which competed against teams from other ships.

In a ceremony in January 1940 before the entire crew of the Arizona, Mr. Sharon was among 32 football players, five boxers, and six wrestlers awarded letter sweaters.  “The sweaters are of excellent material and workmanship, and have been purchased by Welfare Funds to express the appreciation and esteem in which our athletes are held by the ship’s company,” At ‘Em Arizona, the ship’s newsletter, reported in January 1940. “The recipients will wear them with pride and satisfaction that will increase as the years roll by. If they are careful they may even be able to hand them on to their sons.”

Sources: Santa Ana (California) Register; The Associated Press; The Orange County Register; Census, Navy muster rolls; Navy retirement certificate; California birth index; At ‘Em Arizona. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.

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