Search billions of records on

Shirer Family Genealogy Project
Person Page 27921

Main Page - Master Index - Surname Index - Master Place Index - Historical Sources - Photo Albums - Grave Restoration - Scheurer DNA Project - John Shirer of Somerset Co., PA
Previous Page - Next Page

Ralph Scott "Parnelly" Purdum1,2

b. 21 August 1948, d. 16 March 1970

Father John Thomas Purdum1 b. 21 January 1922, d. March 1982
Mother Margery Marie Quinlan1 b. 22 October 1921, d. 28 January 2003
Pop-up Pedigree

Birth* 21 August 1948  Minneapolis, Hennepin Co., MN,
Name: Ralph Scott Purdum
Titles & Terms:
Event: Birth
Event Date: 21 Aug 1948
Event Place: Hennepin, Minnesota
Father: John Thomas Purdum
Mother: Margery Marie Quinlau
File Number: 1948-MN-011827
Collection: Minnesota, Birth Index, 1935-20022,3 
Milit-Beg* between 1967 and 1970  Us Navy Reserve
Aviation Electronics Techinician
VQ-1 Squadron
7th Fleet2 
Death* 16 March 1970  Da Nang Air Force base, Da Nang, Vietnam2 
News/Obit* September 2009  Viking Flyer
934th Airlift Wing (AFRC) Minneapolis-St. Paul IAP Air Reserve Station, Minn. September 2009 Vol. 31, No. 9

Home away from home at MSP
By Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Williams
934th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The staff of the Armed Forces Serviceman’s Center at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport expects to hit an important milestone around Labor Day when the 750,000th military member walks through their doors.

Since the center’s opening in 1970 through Aug. 1, 2009, 748,609 military personnel have utilized the facility, which has never been closed despite snow storms, strikes, airport evacuations, aircraft groundings and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Now located on the Mezzanine level before the security checkpoints, it is one of only eight airport service centers in the United States that is always open day and night. “We have never, ever closed our doors in our entire history,” said Debra Cain, the center’s executive director.

“We had 16 Marines that were stranded here for five days when the airport closed following the Sept. 11 attacks. We even maintained our operations during the move to our present location back in 2002. We have never been closed.” The center was the brainchild of a young sailor from Minneapolis, ATN3 Ralph “Scott” Purdum. He stopped at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport service center run by the Travelers Aid Society in 1969, and thought it would be fitting to have a similar center at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Due to his active duty commitment, he enlisted the help of his mother to get the project moving. He never lived long enough to see his dream come true. At 11:25 a.m. on March 16, 1970, ATN3 Purdum was a crewmember aboard a Lockheed EC-121M “Warning Star,” tail number 145927, on an emergency approach into Da Nang Air Base, Vietnam, due to a malfunctioning No. 4 engine. The aircraft was waved off when another plane arrived onto the runway, but it was too late.

The No. 3 engine quit, the aircraft banked, and then crashed into a revetment before striking a hanger 300 yards east of the runway on the Air Force side of the base. The Warning Star disintegrated, leaving only the tail section intact. Twenty-three crew members, including ATN3 Ralph “Scott” Purdum, lost their lives in the accident. It was his first flight.

In a letter written two months after ATN3 Purdum’s death, his mother, Marjery, wrote, “We were told that he was one of the eleven that was taken from the plane alive, but he did not make it to the hospital. He died of a head injury and he was not burned.” Keeping the promise she made to her son, Marjery increased her efforts in making the Armed Forces Service Center a reality. “I wanted to finish the center even more then because one of his last letters said, ‘Mom, don’t give up on the room, it’s so needed,’” she said at the time.

We are always in need of volunteers, especially from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Just go to the website at and download an application,” said Cain.

Forty years and three-quarters of a million people later, ATN3 Purdum’s legacy is still alive. Editor’s note: Due to space limitations, a longer version of this article is avaialble at

Last Edited 19 Jan 2012


  1. [S1189] Barbara A. Arnold Personal Research, Barbara A. Arnold.
  2. [S1190] Thinking of my Brother, Robert Scott Purdum, John Thomas Purdum Jr..
  3. [S1191] Unknown record type (unknown file date).

Previous Page - Next Page
Main Page - Master Index - Surname Index - Master Place Index - Historical Sources - Photo Albums - Grave Restoration - Scheurer DNA Project - John Shirer of Somerset Co., PA

Compiled by: Denny Shirer, Canton, Ohio

This page was created by John Cardinal's Second Site v1.8.7.
Site updated on 18 July 2016; 47,987 people