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Robert Charles Burke
Robert C. Burke, Medal of Honor recipient
Born (1949-11-07)November 7, 1949
Died May 17, 1968(1968-05-17) (aged 18)
Place of birth Monticello, Illinois
Place of death KIA in Vietnam
Place of burial Monticello Cemetery, Monticello, Illinois
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch US Marine Corps
Years of service 1967-1968
Rank Private First Class
Unit 3rd Battalion 27th Marines
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Awards Medal of Honor
Purple Heart Medal
Combat Action Ribbon
Meritorious Unit Commendation (2)
RVN Military Merit Medal
RVN Gallantry Cross

Robert Charles Burke (November 7, 1949–May 17, 1968) was a United States Marine private first class who was killed in action during the Vietnam War on May 17, 1968. He posthumously received the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award for valor, for his heroic actions on that day.

Biography[edit | edit source]


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.[1]

U.S. Marine Corps

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.[1]


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.[1]


Pfc. Burke is buried in Monticello Cemetery, in Monticello, Illinois.[2]

Medal of Honor citation[edit | edit source]

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to


for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

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. 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.[3]


Military decorations & awards[edit | edit source]

Pfc. Burke's service ribbons include:

A light blue ribbon with five white five pointed stars
Bronze star
Medal of Honor
Purple Heart Medal National Defense Service Medal Vietnam Service Medal with service star
RVN Military Merit Medal RVN Gallantry Cross with palm RVN Campaign Medal with 1960- Bar

Vietnam Veterans Memorial[edit | edit source]

The name Robert Charles Burke is inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial ("The Wall") in Washington, D.C. on Panel 61E, Line 024.[4]

Park naming[edit | edit source]

Robert C. Burke Memorial Park in Monticello, Illinois, his hometown, is named in his honor.[5]

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Private Robert C. Burke", Who's Who in Marine Corps History.
  2. "Robert C. Burke", HomeofHeroes.com.
  3. "Pvt Robert C. Burke", Marines Awarded the Medal of Honor.
  4. "Robert Charles Burke", The Virtual Wall.
  5. "Robert C. Burke Memorial Park", City of Monticello.

References[edit | edit source]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.

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