Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 15th Infantry, 3d
Place and date: Nuremberg, Germany, 17 April 1945.
Entered service at: Jersey City, N.J.
Birth: 29 September 1918, New York, N.Y.
No.: 4, 9 January 1946.
Citation: He fought with extreme gallantry in the
streets of war-torn Nuremberg, Germany, where the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry,
was engaged in rooting out fanatical defenders of the citadel of Nazism.
As battalion transportation officer he had gone forward to select a motor-pool
site, when, in a desire to perform more than his assigned duties and participate
in the fight, he advanced beyond the lines of the forward riflemen. Detecting
a group of about 10 Germans making preparations for a local counterattack,
he rushed back to a nearby American company, secured a light machinegun
with ammunition, and daringly opened fire on this superior force, which
deployed and returned his fire with machine pistols, rifles, and rocket
launchers. From another angle a German machinegun tried to blast him from
his emplacement, but 1st Lt. Burke killed this guncrew and drove off the
survivors of the unit he had originally attacked. Giving his next attention
to enemy infantrymen in ruined buildings, he picked up a rifle dashed more
than 100 yards through intense fire and engaged the Germans from behind
an abandoned tank. A sniper nearly hit him from a cellar only 20 yards
away, but he dispatched this adversary by running directly to the basement
window, firing a full clip into it and then plunging through the darkened
aperture to complete the job. He withdrew from the fight only long enough
to replace his jammed rifle and secure grenades, then re-engaged the Germans.
Finding his shots ineffective, he pulled the pins from 2 grenades, and,
holding 1 in each hand, rushed the enemy-held building, hurling his missiles
just as the enemy threw a potato masher grenade at him. In the triple explosion
the Germans were wiped out and 1st Lt. Burke was dazed; but he emerged
from the shower of debris that engulfed him, recovered his rifle, and went
on to kill 3 more Germans and meet the charge of a machine pistolman, whom
he cut down with 3 calmly delivered shots. He then retired toward the American
lines and there assisted a platoon in a raging, 30-minute fight against
formidable armed hostile forces. This enemy group was repulsed, and the
intrepid fighter moved to another friendly group which broke the power
of a German unit armed with a 20-mm. gun in a fierce fire fight. In 4 hours
of heroic action, 1st Lt. Burke single-handedly killed 11 and wounded 3
enemy soldiers and took a leading role in engagements in which an additional
29 enemy were killed or wounded. His extraordinary bravery and superb fighting
skill were an inspiration to his comrades, and his entirely voluntary mission
into extremely dangerous territory hastened the fall of Nuremberg, in his
This data was extracted from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, U.S. Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients: 1863-1973 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1973)