b. 07/11/1949 Monticello, Illinois. d. 17/05/1968 Tam Ky, Vietnam.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 17/05/1968 Tam Ky, Vietnam.
Burke was born on November 7, 1949, in Monticello, Illinois. While still a student at Monticello High School, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in Chicago, Illinois, March 17, 1967. Burke was discharged to enlist in the regular Marine Corps on May 16, 1967.
Upon completion of recruit training with the 1st Recruit Training Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California, on July 20, 1967, he was transferred to the Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, California. He completed individual combat training with Company Q, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Training Regiment, in August 1967, and was promoted to private first class on September 1, 1967. From September 1967 until January 1968, he was a student with the Motor Transport School, Student Company, Schools Battalion. This was followed by duty as a motor vehicle mechanic with Headquarters and Service Company, 5th Military Police Battalion, 5th Marine Division, Camp Pendleton.
In February 1968, he was sent to the Republic of Vietnam where he was assigned to Company I, 3rd Battalion, 27th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Reinforced) as a Machine Gunner. He was killed in action charging enemy positions on May 17, 1968, while on Operation Allen Brook with Company I, in the hamlet of Le Nam, Go Noi Island in Southern Quang Nam Province. His family were presented with his posthumous Medal of Honor on 20 April 1970 at The White House by Vice-President Spiro T. Agnew.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty for service as a Machine Gunner with Company I, Third Battalion, Twenty Seventh Marines, First Marine Division in the Republic of Vietnam on May 17, 1968. While on Operation ALLEN BROOK, Company I was approaching a dry river bed with a heavily wooded treeline that bordered the hamlet of Le Nam (1), when they suddenly came under intense mortar, rocket propelled grenades, automatic weapons and small arms fire from a large, well concealed enemy force which halted the company’s advance and wounded several Marines. Realizing that key points of resistance had to be eliminated to allow the units to advance and casualties to be evacuated, Private First Class Burke, without hesitation, seized his machine gun and launched a series of one man assaults against the fortified emplacement. As he aggressively maneuvered to the edge of the steep river bank, he delivered accurate suppressive fire upon several enemy bunkers, which enabled his comrades to advance and move the wounded Marines to positions of relative safety. As he continued his combative actions, he located an opposing automatic weapons emplacement and poured intense fire into the position, killing three North Vietnamese soldiers as they attempted to flee. Private First Class Burke then fearlessly moved from one position to another, quelling the hostile fire until his weapon malfunctioned. Obtaining a casualty’s rifle and hand grenades, he advanced further into the midst of the enemy. Observing that a fellow Marine had cleared his malfunctioning machine gun he grasped his weapon and moved into a dangerously exposed area and saturated the hostile treeline until he fell mortally wounded.
BURIAL LOCATION: MONTICELLO CEMETERY, MONTICELLO, ILLINOIS.
SECTION N, BLOCK 324, FIRST ROW, SPACE 10
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.