Project Hero: Cpl. Dale A. Burger Jr, Silver Star Posted by: McQ
on Saturday, August 25, 2007
The story of Cpl. Dale A. Burger Jr is a story of duty, honor and sacrifice. A young leader so concerned with his men he refused to stay out of combat even though wounded, and ended up making the ultimate sacrifice in support of other Marines.
A solemn ceremony to dedicate a building honoring Cpl. Dale A. Burger Jr. was held March 1 at the Marine Detachment, U.S. Army Ordnance Center and Schools here.
Officers of Burger’s former command spoke on the leadership and selfless actions Burger exuded while leading Marines in Iraq.
His mother was presented Burger’s Silver Star for his heroic actions that ultimately led to his death.
Burger’s Marine Corps career began on Parris Island, S.C. He completed his basic and infantry training and was then stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., with I Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines Regiment.
Before deploying to Iraq, Burger completed mountain warfare training in California. During the training, several Marines succumbed to hypothermia. Burger selflessly used his own body heat to raise the body temperatures of the other Marines until he too required medical attention. For his heroic actions during the training, Burger was awarded a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
While in Iraq during the second battle of Fallujah, Burger’s battalion was involved in intense house-to-house fighting. Burger’s squad leader was injured during the fighting, and Burger stepped up to assume the squad leader’s duties. While leading an assault against a fairly large group of insurgents held up in a building, he was wounded and evacuated for medical treatment. Three days later, Burger volunteered to return to his Marines and continue to fight by their side despite his injuries.
Burger was so eager to return to his Marines, he showed up with no gear and no weapon. He had just caught the first ride he could to meet up with the rest of his platoon, said Maj. Brett Clark, Burger’s former company commander.
After returning, Burger’s platoon was involved in yet another firefight, during which he came upon three critically wounded Marines. Inside a house, numerous insurgents were barricaded behind fortified positions, keeping the Marines pinned down and not allowing other leathernecks to advance and save the injured Marines. Burger showed remarkable heroism and valor by charging into the house to recover the fallen Marines, according to his Silver Star citation. While returning fire, Burger was mortally wounded by an insurgent’s bullet.
Martina C. Burger, said that she knew her son was the type of person who would have acted that way.
“Everything I heard today was nothing new,” said Martina Burger. “It’s what I expected from him.”
Martina Burger knew her son was a very compassionate person. He used to follow her to Meals on Wheels to help deliver food for the needy on Christmas morning while his sisters were opening gifts.
“I knew that there was something exceptional about this young man, but I didn’t know how exceptional until I heard about everything he had done in Iraq,” Martina Burger said.
She said her son was a humble man. He probably would have been embarrassed to see the ceremony in his honor.
“He’s probably saying, ‘They’re making too much of nothing because I was just doing my job,’” she said. “This is a great honor to our family. It’s been really hard. When you’re son dies, it’s like your heart gets ripped apart.”
Clark spoke at the ceremony about the actions of Burger. He spoke to the audience of Burger’s exceptional leadership and sacrifice.
“He was a fantastic Marine, and that’s an understatement,” Clark said. “It was my honor to serve with him."
Young men like CPL Burger are indeed heroes and he is an example of the caring leaders our military produces. He was a hell of a Marine. He is buried next to his father, Dale Sr., a Vietnam Marine, in Arlington National Cemetery.
PROJECT HERO is an ongoing attempt to highlight the valor of our military as they fight in both Iraq and Afghanistan. We constantly hear the negative and far to little of the positive and inspiring stories coming out of those countries. This is one small attempt to rectify that. If you know of a story of valor you'd like to see highlighted here (published on Saturday), please contact us. And we'd appreciate your link so we can spread the word.