Burns, John Robert, Jr., 2ndLt

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 Service Details
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Last Rank
Second Lieutenant
Last Primary MOS
0302-Infantry Officer
Last MOSGroup
Infantry
Primary Unit
1967-1968, 0302, M Co, 3rd Bn, 4th Marine Regiment (3/4)
Service Years
1966 - 1968
Officer_ Collar Insignia

Second Lieutenant

 
 

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 Personal Details 

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Home State
Missouri
Missouri
Year of Birth
1944
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by HM2 Charles Pickard (Doc Pickard) to remember Marine 2ndLt John Robert Burns, Jr..

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Casualty Info
Home Town
St Louis
Last Address
St Louis

Casualty Date
Jan 27, 1968
 
Cause
Hostile, Died
Reason
Gun, Small Arms Fire
Location
Quang Tri (Vietnam)
Conflict
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Calvary Cemetery and Mausoleum - St. Louis, Missouri
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Panel 35E Line 044/Section 19 Lot 597

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 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1966, Officer Candidate School (Quantico, VA), OCS1
  1966, The Basic School (Quantico, VA), TBS
 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
3rd Bn, 4th Marine Regiment (3/4), 4th Marine Regiment
  1967-1968, 0302, M Co, 3rd Bn, 4th Marine Regiment (3/4)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1963-1973 Vietnam War
  1967-1967 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase III Campaign (1967-68)
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

MIKES HILL ON HIGHWAY QL-9, 6 KM WEST-SOUTHWEST OF CAM LO 19680127
UTM grid reference is YD074574

The battle for Mike's Hill:
The Marines anticipated another sleepless night. By 0300 on January 27, the enemy probed all sides of Mike's Hill. An estimated reinforced NVA Company had again infiltrated via dry streambeds, but their poor noise discipline suggested they were uncertain of the Marine's exact location. When the two forces finally clashed, a wild melee commenced.
The NVA attacked up three slopes of the hill with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, and automatic weapons covering their advance. Mike Company responded with its full death-dealing final protective fires. The violent assault quickly evolved into a desperate free-for-all with warriors grappling in hand-to-hand combat. Darting Star, threatened with being overrun, ordered Lima Company into the battle.
Captain John "Mac" McLaughlin led his troops into the valley, leaving the company's 60mm mortar section on high ground to pummel an exposed enemy flank and open a gap in the enemy's formation that Lima's lead platoon exploited in textbook fashion. Then, wheeling toward the west, Lima maneuvered down Route 9. Sharp fighting ensued. Overcoming determined pockets of resistance, the company killed twenty-three NVA and captured three prisoners. By noon, the Lima Marines relieved a Mike Company squad ambush surrounded by North Vietnamese near the destroyed bridge.
Meanwhile, India Company was ordered to attack from west to east and link-up with Lima. This required Captain Prichard's Marines to cross open ground interspersed with hedgerows and brush. Moving under heavy artillery covering fire, the company immediately made contact. A well dug-in NVA force of at least company size fought from masterfully camouflaged positions and chewed up India's lead platoon. Soon, the entire company was pinned down. Costly frontal attacks failed to route out the enemy. Captain Prichard committed his reserve platoon but the casualties mounted.
Lima Company maneuvered a platoon two hundred meters west killing eleven enemy and achieving the link-up. Huey gunships circled above. Rockets fired. Automatic weapons sprayed the dug-in force. By 1400, India broke free and over ran the enemy's positions, killing forty NVA soldiers, and stopping all resistance. Med-evac choppers descended. Casualties were loaded aboard, including Captain Prichard, who later died of his wounds. India Company, though victorious in the skirmish, no longer existed as a fighting unit. Darting Star parceled what was left of India to Mike Company and assigned one platoon from Mike Company to Lima Company. Now, instead of having "three short-strength companies" the battalion comprised two "full-strength" ones.
At 1700 hours the enemy, estimated at greater than battalion strength, had been killed, captured, or fled the field. Vehicles rolled down Route 9 from both directions to the destroyed bridge without harassment. Darting Star's mission was accomplished.
When the body count began, one hundred thirty-one NVA soldiers lay dead. Conflicting numbers of prisoners were taken. Three 57mm recoilless rifles were destroyed. Extensive ammunition and equipment stacked up on a hastily prepared LZ, including two 60mm mortars, one NVA radio, a tripod and barrel for a .50 cal machine gun, thirty-five AK-47s, three RPGs, and eight bolt-action rifles.
Holding the line at Camp Carroll carried a dour price for the 3rd Battalion 4th Marines. Twenty-one men were killed in the action. Another sixty-two were wounded. Still, for most of the battalion's Marines the Vietnam War proceeded without pause.
Mopping up continued for two more days. Lima Company discovered several tunnels where North Vietnamese dead were found on makeshift litters. The bodies were buried and the tunnels destroyed. The two ad hoc companies patrolled aggressively, but the enemy had withdrawn to the hills in the north.
On Sunday the 28th, Lima Company choppered up to Camp Carroll. Mike Company humped the three kilometers into camp. At sundown, an Air Force B-52 Arclight mission carpet bombed the suspected enemy routes of retreat while the Marine mess tent prepared thick steaks and served up ample gobs of mashed potatoes.
Darting Star sent a personal message to the officers and men of his command. "This battalion fought a well-disciplined enemy, suicidal in intent to maintain control of the road. Every Marine in this battalion has my sincere thanks for his superb performance, and those who were killed or wounded have my heartfelt prayers. You may all take pride in a good job, well done."
The following day, General Westmoreland sent a message complimenting "the officers and men for the aggressive attack against the enemy's 64th Regiment-  This action undoubtedly pre-empted an enemy attack against Camp Carroll."
From Washington the Secretary of the Navy took pleasure in presenting the Meritorious Unit Commendation to the troops. "Through their courageous efforts, indomitable spirit, and steadfast devotion to duty '(the Battalion)' upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service." General Giap, however, had not abandoned the table. In deed, he had rolled up his sleeves and leaned forward. On January 30 he dealt the attack that proved to be the turning point of the Vietnam War: The 1968 Tet offensive.
The nation-wide assault hit Westmoreland with tornadic force and left him reaping the wind. His decisive battle at Khe Sanh ground to a draw. By mid-March, the general returned to Washington with his hand played out, the bounce in his step gone, and a disillusioned American President ready to fold.
The following books and materials were used in researching this article: Murphy

   
Comments/Citation
Service number 0101776/2344375
Tour strart date 10/04/1967

AWARDS AND CITATIONS

Silver Star

Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Second Lieutenant John Robert Burns, Jr. (MCSN: 0-101776), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Platoon Commander with Company M, Third Battalion, Fourth Marines, THIRD Marine Division in connection with military operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On 18 January 1968, during Operation KENTUCKY, Second Lieutenant Burns' platoon was assigned as a blocking force in support of an assault by another unit upon a well entrenched North Vietnamese Army force northeast of Con Thien. While moving into position, his unit suddenly came under intense hostile fire. Unhesitatingly, Second Lieutenant Burns led an aggressive attack on the enemy emplacements. Undaunted by the enemy fire impacting around him, he moved about the fire-swept terrain directing his men and personally killed five North Vietnamese soldiers. Overrunning the hostile positions, he quickly consolidated his defenses and, although still under fire, maneuvered from one position to another, encouraging his men. As an adjacent unit maneuvered toward its objective, the Marines came under intense hostile fire from a ridge in front of Second Lieutenant Burns' position and were pinned down. Reacting instantly, he enveloped the enemy force and launched an assault which took the enemy soldiers by surprise, causing them to abandon their positions and flee in panic and confusion into the deadly fire of the other unit. By his courage, aggressive fighting spirit and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of great personal danger, Second Lieutenant Burns upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.


 
   
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