Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Frequently Mentioned Persons: Lieutenant Colonel Lloyd L. Burke, U.S. Army

On 24 July 1965, Clark wrote:  "Scooter Burke was wounded today [Burke was wounded on 22 July]. He’s a Medal of Honor winner from Korea, in 1951.  I’ve known him for a long time, and he’s just crazy enough to get himself killed.  It’s a real good thing he got wounded and is being evacuated, because he takes such needless risks that sooner or later he would have been killed.  He had no business being where he was and doing what he was doing when he got wounded.  That's lieutenant's work."

Lieutenant Colonel Lloyd L. Burke, U.S. Army [pictured as a captain in 1952 at his Congressional Medal of Honor ceremony].  (Photo courtesy U.S. Army)

Lieutenant Colonel Lloyd L. "Scooter" Burke, U.S. Army, was the commander of the 2d Battalion, 16th Infantry (a subordinate unit of Colonel Jim Simmons' 2d Brigade, 1st Infantry Division).  At Bien Hoa on 22 July, U.S. Army engineers bulldozed an area near the 2d Brigade's base camp and uncovered a Viet Cong sniper's position.  Burke commandeered a helicopter and attempted to capture the VC as he fled.

Base camp of the 2d Brigade, 1st Infantry Division at Bien Hoa, South Vietnam, where Burke's helicopter was shot down by a Viet Cong sniper.  Photo taken 29 July 1965.  (Photo courtesy U.S. Army)

The sniper shot down Burke's helicopter.  MACV evacuated Burke to the United States as a result of his serious wounds, which he recounted in a letter to Major General Jonathan O. Seaman, the commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division:  "A rundown of my wounds reveals a hole in my right ankle, [a] hole in my left foot, a chunk of meat out of the left calf about as big as your fist and a compound fracture of the left tibia.  Moving up the body my left index finger is gone, [there is] a big gash in my left thumb, [and] a badly bruised left hand.  A hole in my right cheek about as big as your thumb and about 1 inch deep.  That piece severed the nerve in my cheek causing the right part of my upper lip to be dead.  [I have] superficial shrapnel holes in the face, head, arms, and chest.  I'm told the flax [flak] jacket saved my life.  It's pretty well chewed up."  [Letter, Lieutenant Colonel Lloyd L. Burke to Major General Jonathan O. Seaman, 28 July 1965, Personal Correspondence (1965), Jonathan O. Seaman Papers, U.S. Army Military History Institute.]

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