Valor Friday

| January 11, 2019

usn moh
Today’s Valor Friday honors Robert Charles Burke, USMC, who served with distinction in Viet Nam. Unfortunately, he did not survive the conflict. This is his story, as forwarded to me by one who wishes to remain anonymous.

Some 18-year olds are seniors in high school. Others are college freshmen. Still others work a job or do nothing of value at all. When Robert Charles Burke was 17 and still in high school, he joined the USMC Reserve. A couple of months later, he enlisted in the Marines. He was trained as a mechanic but when he was sent to Vietnam in February 1968, he dropped his wrenches and picked up an M60 with I Company, 3rd Battalion, 27th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Reinforced). After three months in country, Burke’s company was leading a column of the 3/27 when it was ambushed by a strongly entrenched PAVN force near the hamlet of Le Nam on Go Noi Island. The furious and accurate enemy fire resulted in 88 casualties for I Company, including 20 KIA. Burke’s response to the ambush was to aggressively attack, using his M60 first and, when that jammed, a rifle and grenades taken from a casualty, and then back to his M60, now cleared. The bold, aggressive, and selfless action saved many of his fellow Marines and, in exchange, cost him his life.

Robert C. Burke of Monticello, Illinois was the youngest recipient of the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam war. A six-acre park bears his name in his home town. Forever 18. Forever a Marine. Here is the official account of his valor, memorialized on the citation and immortalized in the valorous history of the US military and the United States Marine Corps:

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Private First Class Robert Charles Burke (MCSN: 2359360), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a machine gunner with Company I, Third Battalion, Twenty-Seventh Marines, FIRST Marine Division (Reinforced), Fleet Marine Force, in action at Le Nam (1), Go Nai Island, southern Quang Nam Province, Republic of Vietnam on 17 May 1968. While on Operation ALLEN BROOK, Company I was approaching a dry river bed with a heavily wooded tree line that borders 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 machinegun and launched a series of one man assaults against the fortified emplacements. 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 fire in an assault against another pocket of resistance, killing two more of the enemy. Observing that a fellow Marine had cleared his malfunctioning machinegun he grasped his weapon and moved into a dangerously exposed area and saturated the hostile tree line until he fell mortally wounded. Private First Class Burke’s gallant actions upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Hand Salute. Ready, Two! Fair winds and following seas, Marine.

Category: Marines, The Warrior Code, Valor

Comments (13)

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  1. Wilted Willy says:

    God Bless you Marine! Semper FI!!!

  2. 5th/77th FA says:

    Standing in awe and rendering the slow Hand Salute. “no greater love…” Postings of men such as these are another good reason to keep this site up and running. Thanks for this one AW1Ed. We prolly know who sent it in don’t we?

    Men such as this deserve all of the Honor that we can bestow on them. The POS posers that we read about are not worthy to polish these heros’ headstones. Maybe an appropriate punishment for stolen valor dirtbags would be to have them use their teeth to pull the weeds up from the gravesites. While being supervised by an active duty detail from the branch of service the poser is stealing valor from. While paying all costs related to having that detail observe the dirtbag doing said weed pulling. That would put some “teeth” into the Stolen Valor Act.

    Hey, let an old man have his dreams.

    Bravo Zulu PFC Robert Charles Burke, USMC Real War Hero. Thank you for your service and your Supreme Sacrifice. God’s Peace be unto the Family.

    • AW1Ed says:

      We prolly know who sent it in don’t we?

      Heh. Only I know for sure. And it’s going to stay that way until I’m greenlighted to reveal my source.

      I wouldn’t wait up late for that to happen.

      • 5th/77th FA says:

        ^word^ And I won’t wax poetically over any guesses.

        Much respect to that one and others that do the deep research for these posts.

        Much respect and appreciation for all the ones that keeps this here watering hole open. It’s worth and does more for our sanity than all of the chemical “happy pills” in the world.

  3. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    The loss of an 18-year old in war strikes me, as I am sure does you, as particularly sad, even though we all know that there is no good age to Fall in battle. In the case of Robert Burke, that sadness is coupled with an awe that, at such a young age, he fought as he did and saved so many others in doing so. We do not forget. We will not forget.

    • 26Limabeans says:

      “The loss of an 18-year old in war strikes me, as I am sure does you, as particularly sad”

      And it is always begging for an answer that never comes. RIP PFC Burke.

  4. HMCS(FMF) ret says:

    “Where do we find such men…”

    RIP PFC Robert Charles Burke, USMC

  5. CDR_D says:

    Semper Fi and RIP, young Marine.

  6. HMC Ret says:

    These valor posts both sadden and hearten me. I wonder how this Warrior’s life would have evolved had he not given his life to save his fellow Marines? I am humbled by men and women such as this.

  7. Steve says:

    These stories are amazing.


    Thank God for blokes like this.

  8. Stacy0311 says:

    Not a Medal of Honor, but a Silver Star (should’ve been a Navy Cross based on this write up).
    Additionally, I think this is how awards should be written up instead of the dry official prose