SANDSTON, Va. (WRIC) — Mary Pardue earned a Bronze Star Medal for her work with the Army Nurse Corps in World War II when she helped tend to wounded patients as gunfire broke out around her and other servicemen and women. Pardue passed away in 2019 at the age of 100 years old.

Pardue’s ashes were buried on Friday, June 10, in what was initially set to be a smaller, more intimate ceremony, as she had no family members currently residing in Virginia. However, the ceremony quickly turned into a large service — a celebration of her life — when Henrico first responders decided to show up in support and took to social media to garner community attention as well. Veterans, first responders and other strangers from across the Commonwealth traveled to Seven Pines National Cemetery in Sandston for the event.

Shana Wilkins and her husband, Richard, traveled from Williamsburg, and noted how important it was to them that they honor the fallen veteran. “There’s just not many World War II veterans left. I knew that, it just means a lot to me to pay the respect to those veterans,” she said.

A scene from Pardue’s burial service on June 10. (Credit: Sierra Krug / 8News)

Wilkins’ husband said the service was larger than he had ever imagined. After seeing his friend’s social media post rallying the community to support Pardue, he expected a far smaller gathering. However, upon arrival, he found himself pleasantly surprised.

“I really anticipated seeing maybe the Honor Guard from the fire department and maybe a handful of people,” he said. “But it was a very nice showing of respect for the lieutenant.”

Abraham Smith, a veteran with the American Legion Post 175, believes veterans are the backbone of the United States. Smith was thrilled to see the community honoring the late Army Nurse Corps member.

“This is a hero from the war, I wanted to come out and celebrate.” Smith said.

A scene from Pardue’s burial service on June 10. (Credit: Sierra Krug / 8News)