Francis X. Burke

BURKE,FRANCIS
Francis X. Burke

Francis X. Burke

Major Francis X. Burke was commissioned an Infantry Officer upon graduation from Officer Candidate School Class 36-42. His first duty assignment was as Platoon Leader, D Company, 15th Infantry. | First Lieutenant Burke fought with extreme gallantry in the streets of war-torn Nuremburg, Germany, where the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry was engaged in rooting out fanatical defenders of the citadel of Nazism. As battalion transportation officer he had gone forward to select a motor pool site, when, in a desire to perform more than his assigned duties and participate in the fight, he advanced beyond the lines of the forward riflemen. Detecting a group of about 10 Germans making preparations for a local counterattack, he rushed back to a nearby American compnay, secured a light machinegun with ammunition, and daringly opened fire on this superior force, which deployed and returned his fire with machine pistols, rifle, and rocket launchers. From another angle a German machingun tried to blast him from his emplacement, but Lieutenant Burke killed this gun crew and drove off the survivors of the unit he had originally attacked. Giving his next attention to enemy infantrymen in ruined buildings, he picked up a rifle, dashed more than 100 yards through intense fire an engaged the Germans from behind an abandoned tank. A sniper nearly hit him from a cellar only 20 yards away, but he dispatched this adversary by running directly to the basement window, firing a full clip into it and then plunging through the darkened aperture to complete the job.  He withdrew from the fight only long enough to replace his jammed rifle and secure grenades, then re-engaged the Germans. Finding his shots ineffective, he pulled the pins from two grenades, and holding one in each hand, rushed the enemy-held building, hurling his missiles just as the enemy threw a potato masher grenade at him.  In the triple explosion the Germans were wiped out and Lieutenant Burke was dazed; but he emerged from the shower of debris that engulfed him, recovered his rifle, and went on to kill three more Germans and meet the charge of a machine pistolman, whom he cut down with three calmly delivered shots. He then retired toward the American lines and there assisted a platoon in a raging, 30-minute fight against formidable, armed, hostile forces. This enemy group was repulsed, and the intrepid fighter moved to another friendly fire fight. In four hours of heroic acion, Lieutenant Burke singlehandedly killed 11 and wounded 3 enemy soldiers and took a leading role in engagements in which an additional 29 enemy were killed or wounded. His extraordinary bravery and superb fighting skills were an inspiration to his comrades, and his entirely voluntary mission into extremely dangerous territory hastened the fall of Nuremburg in his battalion's sector. | His subsequent duty assignments include:  Commander, D Company, 15th Infantry, Anzio, Italy; Transportation Officer, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry, France, Germany, Austria; AA Battalion, 50th Armor Division, Jersey City, New Jersey National Guard; P.I.O., Headquarters, 50th Armor Division, Orange, New Jersey. | Major Burke's awards include: thel Medal of Honor, Bronze Star w/3 Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman Badge, European Theater of Operations w/5 Battle Stars.

Additional Information

  • Rank

    Major

  • Graduated From

    Fort Benning, Georgia

  • Key Assignment

    Platoon Leader | D Company | 15th Infantry

  • Highest Award

    Medal of Honor

  • Year Inducted

    1971

  • Branch Of Service

    Infantry

  • HF ID #

    HF_00506

  • MH ID#

    MH_00017