Kevin Gail Burke

First Lieutenant
Army of the United States
09 November 1944 - 20 November 1968
Anita, Iowa
Panel 38W Line 014


Distinguished Service Cross

Combat Infantry

Bronze Star, Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Kevin Gail Burke

29 Sep 2001

Kevin Gail Burke is one of the larger family descended from Conrad, William Francis, and Peter W. Mailander, three brothers who came to America from the town of Neunkirchen, Siegkreis, Prussia, in 1849. I have an interest in genealogy, and have developed a family tree for our extended family.

Chris and Melissa While visiting my cousin Chris Mailander in DC, he showed me the name of our cousin Kevin Burke on the Vietnam Memorial Wall. Kevin's name is located in the center of the picture about 3 lines up from the more darkly shadowed names - between the two exaggerated diamonds. His great grandparents were Caroline Mailander and August Ballenseifer who lived in Atlantic, Iowa.

Wall photo Nov 2001

Wall rubbing Nov 2001
Photo and rubbing courtesy of Melissa Mailander Curristan, Nov 2001

Please visit my
Mailander genealogy site

From his cousin,
Melissa Mailander Curristan

Kevin asked to lead a platoon into battle and displayed great heroism on Nui Chom Mountain, across from LZ West. He died a hero and will always be missed by those of us who served with 4th Bn, 31st Inf, 196th LIB.

Ken Herrman, Jr.

When Tell A Tale of Iowa (Don Doyle Brown, Wallace-Homestead Book Co., Radnor, PA), originally written in 1965, was republished in paperback after my cousin's death, it included the following dedication to Kevin:
"In the early dawn of November 20, 1968, near the tiny village of Tan My in Quang Tin Province, South Vietnam, Lt. Kevin G. Burke of Anita, Iowa, volunteered to lead a rescue mission to attempt to reach several men from another company who were pinned down by enemy fire.

"Lt. Burke carried two injured men to safety and then charged the enemy fortification, again braving heavy fire to attempt to rescue a seriously injured man who lay next to an enemy bunker. As he neared the wounded soldier a single enemy shot found its mark and instantly killed Lt. Kevin Burke.

"At the age of 24, Kevin Burke, a son of Iowa, a star in athletics, an award winning public speaker, a graduate of Notre Dame, a man of many friends, and a youth whose future held unbounded promise, died the death of a hero in a foreign land while trying to save the life of a man he didn't even know.

"During his funeral on December 7, 1968, the anniversary of the start of another war, the whole town of Anita turned out in a solemn honor guard at a round the clock vigil to honor the memory of its fallen son. Later the Department of the Army awarded Lt. Burke the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation's second highest military decoration, as well as the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and the Combat Infantryman's Badge.

"This book then, is dedicated to the memory of Lt. Kevin G. Burke, who, by the manner in which he lived and by the manner in which he died, proved he was a hero all the way."

Denis Burke

A Note from The Virtual Wall

APO San Francisco 96375

4 February 1969



1. TC 320. The following AWARD is announced posthumously.

Kevin Gail Burke, First Lieutenant, Infantry
Company A, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry

Awarded: Distinguished Service Cross
Date action: 20 November 1968
Theater: Republic of Vietnam
Reason: For extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Company A, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry, 196th Brigade, Americal Division. First Lieutenant Burke distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 20 November 1968 as a platoon leader on a combat sweep operation near the village of Tan My in Quang Tin Province. During a battle with a large force of North Vietnamese regulars, Lieutenant Burke volunteered to lead fifteen men to rescue several wounded and dead comrades who lay at the base of a hill. Throwing hand grenades and firing his rifle, he came within twenty meters of the hostile positions as he worked his way down the hill. After reaching the casualties, he supervised their evacuation and remained behind to provide covering fire, killing at least five of the communists. When his men had escaped, Lieutenant Burke attempted to rescue a seriously injured man who lay next to an enemy bunker. Braving North Vietnamese machine gun fire, he charged the fortification and while returning fire with his rifle, was mortally wounded by the hostile fusillade. First Lieutenant Burke's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty, at the cost of his life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

A Company, 4/31st Infantry, lost three men in the engagement described above:

  • 1LT Kevin G. Burke, Anita, IA (Dist Svc Cross);
  • SGT Danny C. Hudson, Chadron, NE; and
  • CPL Michael J. Crescenz, Philadelphia, PA (Medal of Honor).

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his cousin,
Melissa Mailander Curristan

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 29 Sep 2001
Last updated 07/18/2006