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Eric S. Purdon; Helped Integrate Navy

December 10, 1989

Eric S. Purdon, 76, a retired Navy commander who was captain of one of the ships that helped integrate blacks into the Navy's regular ranks. Purdon's submarine chaser, the PC1264, was commissioned during World War II to demonstrate whether blacks could be capable seamen. One of the crewmen on the ship was Samuel Lee Gravely Jr., who became the first American black admiral. After the war, Purdon was an intelligence analyst for Central Intelligence Group until 1948, when he was recalled to active duty in the Navy. After retiring in 1963, he was a spokesman for the Commerce Department and the Office for Economic Opportunity and a special aide to the director of the Job Corps. His book, "Black Company, the Story of Subchaser 1264," detailing the mission, was published in 1972. He also was co-author of "Battle Report: The Middle Phase," an account of naval operations in the Pacific during the war, and wrote articles and short stories. In Harwood, Md. Dec. 2 of prostate cancer.

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