Fifteen years ago, we laid to rest Corporal Dale A. Burger, Jr. who was killed in action during the Second Battle of Fallujah in 2004.
Five months before being interred at Arlington National Cemetery, Burger Jr. was attending his father’s funeral, a mere 20 feet from what would eventually become his final resting place.
His father, Lance Corporal Dale A. Burger, served in the Marine Corps during Vietnam and was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds sustained in combat. He passed away of a heart attack when he was 54 years old. Burger Jr., who wanted to be a Marine since he was a child, was a day away from shipping off to Iraq for a second time when he saluted his father’s casket in Section 54 of Arlington National Cemetery.
Burger Jr. died a hero. The citation for his Silver Star tells a story of a young man stepping up when his squad needed him, being wounded by shrapnel, and returning to battle three days later.
Before he went back out with his Marines, he called his mother. “I’m going back with my men,” he told her.” “Do you have to go back?” she asked. “These are my guys. They need me.”
Shortly after he rejoined his team, he died attempting to save the lives of three severely wounded Marines. He was 21.
An excerpt of his citation reads: “During an ensuing firefight, Corporal Burger encountered three severely wounded Marines inside a house where numerous insurgents were barricaded behind fortified positions. Again disregarding his own safety, and under heavy enemy fire, he charged into the house to recover his fellow Marines. While valiantly returning fire and calling for the wounded Marines, he received enemy fire and fell mortally wounded.” His full citation can be found below.
On November 29, 2004, Dale Alan Burger, Jr. was laid to rest in Section 54, Site 121. His father is at site 43, just a few steps away.
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Corporal Dale Allen Burger, Jr., United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving as Squad Leader, Company I, Third Battalion, First Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, FIRST Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM II from 9 to 14 November 2004. During an intense firefight, Corporal Burger's squad leader was knocked unconscious and suffered a concussion from a rocket-propelled grenade. Realizing the platoon's attack was losing momentum, Corporal Burger immediately assumed the squad leader's responsibilities and quickly directed his fire teams to establish positions in nearby buildings. Displaying heroic leadership and tactical proficiency, he personally led a team to a rooftop and neutralized several enemy sniper positions with accurate fire, enabling the Platoon to regain critical momentum. Despite withering enemy fire and with total disregard for his personal safety, Corporal Burger employed his M-203 grenade launcher and two AT-4 rockets, eliminating enemy insurgents operating in adjacent buildings. Leading the squad in an assault against a large group of insurgents occupying a building, he was seriously wounded and evacuated. Disregarding his wounds, he volunteered to return to the Platoon three days later. During an ensuing firefight, Corporal Burger encountered three severely wounded Marines inside a house where numerous insurgents were barricaded behind fortified positions. Again disregarding his own safety, and under heavy enemy fire, he charged into the house to recover his fellow Marines. While valiantly returning fire and calling for the wounded Marines, he received enemy fire and fell mortally wounded. By his bold leadership, wise judgment, and complete dedication to duty, Corporal Burger reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.