Robert Charles Burke

Private First Class
United States Marine Corps
07 November 1949 - 17 May 1968
Monticello, Illinois
Panel 61E Line 024


Medal of Honor

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Robert Charles Burke

26 Aug 2007

PFC Robert C. Burke was, by MOS, a Marine mechanic with the soul and esprit of a machine gunner. Assigned to India Company, 3/27 in February 1968 he accepted and relished his new role as an M60 man. During Operation Allen Brook in May 1968, he saved the lives of literally dozens of his fellow Marines by his single handed assault against well entrenched and fortified NVA bunkers.

His actions resulted in as many as three dozen wounded 3/27 Marines being rescued from a seemingly hopeless situation, pinned down by small arms and machine gun fire in the scorching sun on Go Noi Island. He lost his life to enemy fire shortly after his heroic actions of May 17 earned for him the nation's highest award, the Medal of Honor. The Medal is displayed along with other Burke artifacts in the Piatt County, Illinois Courthouse in what is now a shrine in honor of Robert C. Burke, a true American Hero.

Semper Fidelis.

Terry Rigney
H&S Co, 3/27 Vietnam, 1968

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 16 May 1968 India Company, 3/27 Marines, was placed under operational control of 3rd Bn, 7th Marines and inserted into the vicinity of Le Nam hamlet on Go Noi Island as part of Operation ALLEN BROOK. The remainder of 3/27 was to arrive on the 17th.

Early on the 17th India 3/27 was heavily engaged with an NVA battalion and began taking serious casualties. Meanwhile, the arrival of 3/27's other rifle companies was delayed due to a lack of airlift assets; the first elements of Kilo 3/27 were not airborne until about 1300 and the lift was not completed until 1730. Even so, the arrival of the first elements relieved some pressure on India 3/27, and a move to contact by Kilo, Lima, and Mike companies allowed a link-up with India by 1930.

Overall, 28 Marines and sailors were killed in action on Goi Noi Island on 17 May, 21 of them from India 3/27:

  • Capt Thomas H. Ralph, Clifton, TX, Commanding Officer, India 3/27
  • 1stLt Lanny D. Cummins, Oroville, CA
  • 2ndLt Marcus G. Fiebelkorn, Pagosa Springs, CO
  • Sgt Jack B. Gorton, Culver City, CA
  • Sgt Nate F. Lee, Hazleton, PA
  • Cpl Richard Turner, Washington, DC
  • Cpl Jack L. White, Tacoma, WA
  • LCpl John A. Gibson, Chicago, IL
  • LCpl Allen R. Green, Hanley Hills, MO
  • LCpl Bernard M. Himes, Anita, PA
  • LCpl David L. Schettl, Manitowoc, WI
  • LCpl Larry J. West, Morenci, AZ
  • Pfc Robert L. Bauer, Port Huron, MI
  • Pfc Lyle P. Bills, Council Bluffs, IA
  • Pfc Robert C. Burke, Monticello, IL (Medal of Honor)
  • Pfc Albert W. Hawkins, Columbus, OH
  • Pfc Philip D. Miller, Grand Junction, CO
  • Pfc Sylvester G. Tyler, Washington, DC
  • Pvt Thomas H. Crook, Kansas City, MO
  • Pvt Bennie R. Jones, Jackson, TN
  • Pvt Victor J. Schweig, Chicago, IL
It developed that India 3/27 had encountered one of three NVA/VC battalions in the area. Over the next 9 days, the 3/27 Marines endured a bitter fight centered around Le Bac hamlet. The last Marine killed in the fight was 1stLt F. H. Williams, executive officer of C Company, 1st Tanks, on 26 May - the last of 60 Marines and sailors killed in and around Le Bac.

The President of the United States
in the name of the Congress of the United States takes pride in presenting the


posthumously to

Private First Class
United States Marine Corps

for service as set forth in the following


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty for service as a Machine Gunner with Company I, Third Battalion, Twenty-Seventh Marines, First Marine Division in the Republic of Vietnam on 17 May 1968. While on Operation ALLEN BROOK, Company I was approaching a dry river bed with a heavily wooded tree line that bordered the hamlet of Le Nam (1), when they suddenly came under intense mortar, rocket propelled grenade. automatic weapons and small arms fire from a large, well-concealed enemy force which halted the company's advance and wounded several Marines. Realizing that key points of resistance had to be eliminated to allow the units to advance and casualties to be evacuated, Private Burke, without hesitation, seized his machine gun and launched a series of one man assaults against the fortified emplacements. As he aggressively maneuvered to the edge of the steep river bank, he delivered accurate suppressive fire upon several enemy bunkers. which enabled his comrades to advance and move the wounded Marines to positions of relative safety. As he continued his combative actions, he located an opposing automatic weapons emplacement and poured intense fire into the position, killing three North Vietnamese soldiers as they attempted to flee. Private Burke then fearlessly moved from one position to another, quelling the hostile fire until his weapon malfunctioned. Obtaining a casualty's rifle and hand grenades, he advanced further into the midst of the enemy. Observing that a fellow Marine had cleared his malfunctioning machine gun he grasped his weapon and moved into a dangerously exposed area and saturated the hostile fire until he fell mortally wounded. Private Burke's gallant actions upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Robert Burke's courage has been remembered by both the Marines and his community - Burke Hall (Building 626), Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, is named for him, while Monticello, Illinois, has dedicated the Robert C. Burke Memorial Park to him.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a fellow 3/27 Marine,
Terry W. Rigney

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 26 Aug 2007
Last updated 03/05/2008