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George S. Burks Laid to Rest in Houston National Veterans Cemetery

George S. Burks, longtime member of the Society of the 3d Infantry Division and the 15th Infantry Regiment Association was laid to rest in the Houston National Veterans Cemetery in a military service on 30 November 2017.  George passed away quietly in the company of his caregivers and family on November in his home in Houston.  He was 97 years old.

His son, George Burks, notified us the day after George’s passing telling us how much his father had enjoyed his friendship with us over the years. We were deeply touched. We first met George in 2004 during the Society of the 3d Infantry Division’s 60th anniversary tour of Europe.  We were stationed in Hamburg, Germany at the time and traveled to France to meet the group as it toured Alsace and the Colmar area, then again linked up with them when they visited Vesoul at the base of the Vosges Mountains. We developed an instant rapport with George and greatly enjoyed his tales of his war experiences, as well as his plentiful supply of jokes and humorous stories.

We learned that George had served in L Company of the 3d Battalion, 15th Infantry, starting in Italy, through the landing in Southern France, and into the Vosges Mountains where he was seriously wounded in October 1944 requiring his evacuation and over a year of medical treatment to recover. We were very interested to learn of his combat experiences and his recollections of various persons from his company, battalion, and Regiment whom we had only read of before in the Division and Regimental histories.

We stayed in touch by phone and letter afterwards and met again when he attended the Society of the 3d Infantry Division reunion which was co-hosted by OPs 5845 and 7 in Northern Virginia in 2010.  George once again regaled us with his stories, and we were able to record extensive video of him recounting his war experiences.

We would frequently communicate by phone, and whenever we were on the phone the conversations would last well over an hour, as we would cover the full range of topics from politics to military history to whatever came to mind. George was extremely well-read, and even after his health deteriorated and he was confined to his wheelchair, he continued to devour books and magazines and we would discuss these whenever we spoke.

We were planning on visiting George in Houston in January 2018, but, unfortunately, he didn’t survive that long for us to do so, which for us is a grievous loss. We will miss him dearly. The lesson for us is we should never take for granted our time with our veterans.  We should visit them every opportunity and as often as possible.

We traveled to Houston for George’s burial service. We were deeply honored his family included us in their tributes to him, and we were very happy we were not traveling overseas at the time so we could attend. The Houston National Veterans Cemetery, with over 95 thousand graves, is the second largest military cemetery in the United States behind only Arlington National Cemetery. The military honors were provided by a detail from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and a retired USMC chaplain and Episcopal priest presided over the last rites. George’s two sons, George and Gene, with their wives Patricia and Lora, his grandchildren, and many friends attended the service, which took place on a sunny day with temperatures in the mid-70s. 

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Presentation of the flag to George Burks

During the post-service luncheon we had more time to speak to George and Gene, Patricia and Lora. They told us just how much our friendship meant to George, and how honored they were for us to join them for this sad occasion.  In speaking with Patricia we learned her father served in WWII and Korea as an artillery officer. We found this interesting and asked her whether she knew which unit her father served with in Korea. She didn’t know, but had a photo album from her father which she showed us the following day. LTC James Lucey commanded the 58th Field Artillery Battalion of the 3d Infantry Division 1952-1953! We were very happily surprised as we opened the album and saw that beautiful 3d ID patch on his uniform! We encouraged George and Gene to join the Society of the 3d Infantry Division as Associate members in honor of their Dad, and Patricia in honor of her father. We also asked George and Gene to join the 15th Infantry Regiment Association in honor of their dad. This is how Marne families can continue their veteran’s legacy, remaining in the loop on happenings within the veteran community and becoming life-long friends!

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Haesook Choi, Gene, Lora, Patricia, and George Burks, Monika and Tim

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