41 / 33
      39 / 32
      42 / 32

      Community honors fallen Vietnam soldier

      43 years later, John Burgess, the man who lost his life fighting in Vietnam was honored Saturday in Kingsley.

      â??It's a closing for John. We waited 43 years. It did my heart good to see all the people that turned out today,â?? said Peggy Hardley, John Burgess' Sister.

      Folks gathered at Kingsley High School to honor John Burgess.

      â??It's been a long journey for this family,â?? said Pat Putney, John Burgess' Cousin. â??It was such an honor to be here and be a member of the family and help them out through this process.â??

      John was listed as missing in action since 1970 when his helicopter crashed near the Cambodian border. John's sister never thought she would see this day.

      â??We waited so long and I just thought he was out there somewhere,â?? said Hardley.

      The family has held onto one another for support, and thanks to a recent discovery of new artifacts, John's remains were buried this past July at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

      â??I was able to see the whole ceremony and was very moved by it. They gave him a funeral equivalent to that of a president. It was a real honor to see that happen after so many years,â?? said Art Dembinski, John Burgess' Cousin.

      â??It was an honor to have him come back to his roots because once a Native American always one,â?? said Putney.

      The memorial service went from the high school to a nearby cemetery where soil from John's grave site at Arlington was placed in the ground by his brother Bill Burgess.

      â??John is a hero. He's a hero to all of us here,â?? said Putney.

      â??If nothing else John brought us all back together,â?? said Hardley.

      Family members quickly learned the effect John had on complete strangers.

      â??As one lady said when I was walking out of the gym I asked her who she was. She was crying and she said she will never forget him and she didn't even know him. That was great. I think he will be remembered.â??

      John was born in Leelanau County and graduated from Kingsley High School before being drafted to serve in Vietnam.