Vietnam veteran identified 43 years later
Thu, 27 Jun 2013 00:03:02 GMT —
A local man who served in the Vietnam War and died in action will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.
This comes 43 years after his helicopter was shot down by enemy fire.
Army Specialist John Burgess graduated from Kingsley High School in 1968 and joined the Military soon after.
A friend and former teammate reflected on the life of the man who paid the ultimate price in Vietnam.
â??John being an upperclassman he wasâ?¦ somebody you really looked up to,â?? said Tom Durfee of Kingsley.
Durfee played basketball with Burgess at Kinglsey High School.
Not only was Durfee a role model, he excelled on the hardwood.
â??He was just a natural, natural player. He was a team leader and he'd get right in your face if you messed it up.â??
Burgess was the crew chief of a helicopter that crashed on June 30, 1970. He was with four other soldiers and only one survived the crash.
It doesn't surprise Durfee that his friend was in charge in the helicopter.
â??John was a veryâ?¦ aggressive young man. He knew what he was and that was just fine with him and if you didn't like it that was too bad.â??
When Durfee heard the news of Burgess' death, he found it very hard to believe.
â??It was kinda shocking to me because to me looking up to John and having the chance to work with him for some summers, he was invincible.â??
The Department of Defense POW and Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) released information saying Burgess is now accounted for using what the office is calling 'circumstantial evidence.'
â??It feels very rewarding, in my position, to actually know that the military and the government is still looking for the service members who were lost from past wars,â?? said Sgt. 1st Class Sheila Sledge of the DPMO.
With a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery next Tuesday, Durfee knows his friend will receive the proper burial.
â??I would think that he would be pleased and proud that he would have that opportunity to be laid to rest there,â?? said Durfee.
The only survivor of the helicopter crash is expected to be at the burial in Arlington, Virginia on July 2nd.