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Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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Vietnam War - U.S. Marine Corps

Robert Charles Burke

  • Rank: Private First Class
  • Conflict/Era: Vietnam War
  • Unit/Command:
    Company I, 3d Battalion, 27th Marines,
    1st Marine Division (Rein) FMF
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Marine Corps
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: May 17, 1968
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: Le Nam 1, Go Nai Island, Quang Nam Province (southern), Republic of Vietnam

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. While on Operation Allen Brook, Company I was approaching a dry river bed with a heavily wooded treeline that borders the hamlet of Le Nam (1), when they suddenly came under intense mortar, rocket-propelled-grenade, 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, Pfc. Burke, without hesitation, seized his machine gun 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. Pfc. 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 machine gun, he grasped his weapon and moved into a dangerously exposed area and saturated the hostile treeline until he fell mortally wounded. Pfc. Burke's gallant actions upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Medal of Honor Recipient Robert C. Burke
Medal of Honor Recipient Robert C. Burke
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Chicago, Cook County, Illinois
  • Awarded Posthumously: Yes
  • Presentation Date & Details: April 20, 1970

    The White House, presented by Vice Pres. Spiro T. Agnew to his family

  • Born: November 7, 1949, Monticello, Piatt County, IL, United States
  • Died: May 17, 1968, Republic of Vietnam
  • Buried: Monticello Cemetery (MH) (N-324-1-10), Monticello, IL, United States

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