Dale Allan Burger, Jr.
Corporal, United States Marine Corps
RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
Nov 16, 2004
Media Contact: Marine Corps Public Affairs - (703) 614-4309 Public/Industry Contact: (703)428-0711
DoD Identifies Marine Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of two Marines who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Corporal Dale A. Burger Jr., 21, of Port Deposit,
Both Marines died November 14, 2004, as result of enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. They both were assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.
For further information contact the Marine
Corps Base Camp Pendleton Public Affairs Office at (760) 725-5044.
Marine corporal, 21, a Harford native, killed in Fallujah.
A 21-year-old Bel Air native has died fighting in Iraq, officials said last week. Marine Corporal Dale A. Burger Jr. was days from completing his second tour of duty, his family said, when he died November 14, 2004, in combat in Fallujah.
Burger was the only boy in a family of eight and, as a child who looked up to his father, wanted to follow in his footsteps and be a Marine, said sister Lynn Frost of Florida.
The family was proud of its military ties and flew the Marine Corps flag outside its home. As a teenager, Burger was so eager to join the Marines that he left Bel Air High School early and got a General Educational Development diploma.
Burger's father, a Vietnam veteran, died this year. The last time Lori Burger, another sister, saw her brother was at their father's burial in Arlington National Cemetery. He shipped out for Iraq the next day.
Family members said Burger had hoped to go
to Afghanistan as a civilian contractor and perhaps become a state trooper.
I told Martina Burger, who was very accommodating and who gave me more of her time than I ever expected, that I would not debate the war in Iraq with the grieving mother of a Marine who was killed there.
I oppose the war, she doesn't. But I never argue with the next of kin, even if they seem willing to engage the subject, as Martina Burger did yesterday.
That's not why I contacted her at her house in Port Deposit, Maryland.
Sometimes, you just want to talk and learn a little more about a young man, like Marine Corporal Dale Burger Jr., who died Sunday in the Fallujah operation.
It brings you closer to the reality of this war.
Did Dale like sports?
"He loved baseball. He dreamed of being Cal Ripken. He always played shortstop, from T-ball on. But my husband was disabled in 1993; he had a coma and suffered brain damage, and Dale Jr. lost his dad. His dad could not do dad things, could not play with him like he used to, and that turned Dale off from baseball."
Talking with his mom brings you closer to knowing more than what appears in the listing of Dale Burger's death: "3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force."
When did he say he wanted to become a Marine?
"When he was 6. I was just looking at some pictures. For Halloween, he dressed in his dad's uniform. His dad - Dale, Sr. - was a Marine in Vietnam, and Dale Jr. dressed in his dad's khakis and tie for Halloween. He had been a Ninja Turtle, of course, and a Ghostbuster. But he loved to play Marine. As he got older, he studied and read all about the Marines, and knew the history, and could rattle off names. He studied up on nothing else."
All that has passed has passed too fast. Now we are beyond 1,200 American soldiers killed over there, and perhaps 100,000 civilians, and here we sit, far and safe from the scene, wondering where this is all headed and how much longer the violence and the death.
Given the results of the presidential election, I would say half of the country still thinks there are no clear answers to those questions, and that the Bush administration rushed to war blindly, with lies and exaggerations for premise. They think the war might even have heightened the threat of terrorism.
The other half apparently thinks this is a just crusade; polls indicate they believe there are weapons of mass destruction over there and that a link existed between the regime of Saddam Hussein and the terrorist network of Osama bin Laden. At the very least, they think the ouster of Hussein was worth the sacrifice. Dale Burger's mom, Martina, is one of them.
Was Dale a good student?
"He became bored with school. You could see it starting in his sophomore year in high school, and he missed having those dad opportunities with his father and I think he became depressed. His junior year, it was a real task to get him to school. Finally, I said to him, 'Dale, enough. You need direction, you need to do something with yourself,' and a little while later he said, 'Mom, I'm going to join the Marines.' I told him the Marines didn't take dummies and he had to finish school."
The nation is divided. One half hears about Americans dying in Iraq and shakes its head, grumbles about Bush and goes about its business. The other half sticks yellow ribbons on cars and minivans, and goes about its business.
It seems like the only Americans affected by the war in the Iraq - or paying attention to it - are those fighting it and those related to those fighting it.
When did Dale go to Iraq?
"His father died of a heart attack in May, and we had to wait two weeks for his funeral at Arlington [National Cemetery] on June 10. Dale shipped out June 15. We stayed in touch. He had access to a computer and a telephone, and he kept in touch all the time except for one month when I didn't hear from him. He called me when his best friend was killed, Mike Allred. I think it was Labor Day when he was killed. They had been friends since they went into training at Camp Pendleton together. Mike was his buddy."
For the president and those in Washington who started this war, there's a benefit to an all-volunteer force - no draft, no protesting college students, no dissent fueled by self-preservation. Those who have been killed or wounded in Iraq wanted to be there. They signed up for this duty. I've heard fierce talkers on radio and television say so, as if that makes the whole thing more acceptable.
It's so easy to say these things when you are detached from it.
When was the last time you heard from him?
"He called me on my cell phone at 2:30 a.m. Saturday. He said, 'Mom, it's 10 o'clock in the morning in Iraq, and I'm going back with my unit. Don't worry, Mom, the Marines have trained me well.' ... I don't want my son to die in vain. I think we need to finish what we have started. ... Thank you for talking to me. It's a way of honoring my son. I thank God for the privilege of having been his mother."
Dale will be buried near his father at Arlington
on November 29, 2004.
On Saturday, Marine Corporal Dale A. Burger Jr. called home from Iraq.
Because he'd been fighting in the offensive
on Fallujah, he hadn't had much time for calls recently. But he wanted
to let his mother, Martina Burger, know that although shrapnel had ripped
into his arm, he was OK. He could still use his hand, he said.
He was a squad leader, he told his mother. He had to help his buddies.
"Don't worry about me," he said. "I'll be fine."
On Sunday, Burger, 21, died in combat in Fallujah. The Bel Air native became the 18th person from Maryland to die in Iraq - the fourth in less than a week.
"He could have stayed out," said his sister Lynn Frost of Florida. "But he wanted to go back and fight with his friends."
Burger's second tour of duty in Iraq was just days from ending and he was supposed to be discharged from the service Dec. 3, according to his family.
A week ago, for Veterans Day, Frost's 5-year-old son, Kyle, got an assignment from his elementary school to bring a veteran to class. He came home in tears because he didn't have anyone to bring. But Frost explained to him that his uncle was in the military, in Iraq. And she gave Kyle a picture of him to bring to school.
That day in school, a photographer from a local Florida newspaper took a picture of Kyle in a T-shirt emblazoned with the American flag, showing his classmates a picture of his uncle Dale Burger Jr. - the official Marine portrait of Burger in his smart, gold-buttoned uniform.
A week later, Frost had to tell the little boy what happened to the soldier he showed off.
"He was just sad," Frost said. "He didn't understand why."
As the only boy in a family of eight, and as a child who looked up to his dad, Frost said, Burger wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father, who also was a Marine. The family was proud of its military ties and flew the Marine Corps flag outside its home.
As a teenager, Burger was so eager to join the Marines that he left Bel Air High School early and got a General Educational Development diploma.
Burger's father was a Vietnam veteran who died this year. That was the last time Lori Burger, another sister, saw her brother - in June, at their father's burial in Arlington National Cemetery. He shipped out for Iraq the next day.
"He was so proud of my dad," Lori Burger said. "And he was just the spitting image of my father. I guess everyone would say this, but he was just such a good kid. I still want to call him a kid."
Because Burger was away from his family much of the past four years with the Marines, his sisters said they didn't know as many of the details about their brother's life as they would have liked - his favorite TV shows, his hobbies, his aspirations. They did know, though, that he hoped to go to Afghanistan as a civilian contractor and perhaps become a state trooper.
During his last leave home, Burger bought a red Ford F-350 truck, which he loved.
Not long ago, Burger's mother called her daughter Lori to tell her that she was having a bad feeling. Martina Burger's husband was wounded during his 11th month of combat in Vietnam, just as he was about to come home. And the younger Burger's uncles all had died in Vietnam.
"This just goes down the line of men in the family," Frost said. "I'm just going to miss him."
Marine's Family Recalls His Dedication to Mission
By Mary Otto
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
When he died, Marine Corporal Dale A. Burger Jr. was exactly two weeks shy of finishing his second tour in Iraq.
He was in the country for six months in 2003. He had seen the wreckage and beauty of life there. He had seen the war there and had savored the sweetness of the pomegranates farmers gave him to eat. He had come home this year to Port Deposit, Maryland, and attended the funeral of his father, Dale A. Burger Sr., a Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War.
He saluted his father's coffin at Arlington National Cemetery. And he went back to Iraq.
His mother, Martina, told her son that she did not understand this war.
She recalled him saying to her: "Mom, I'm not supposed to talk about it, but those people need us. We need to help them."
Last week, he was struck by shrapnel in the forearm, and he had to sit out a few days because of the injury. It was 2:30 a.m. Saturday when he called his mother to say he was going back into battle.
"I'm going back with my men," he told her.
"Do you have to go back, Dale?" she recalled asking.
"These are my guys. They need me."
Burger, a 21-year-old rifleman assigned to the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Marine Regiment, was killed Sunday as a result of enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.
The Marine Corps would give no further details, but the province includes Fallujah, where Army troops and Marines launched a major assault November 7, 2004, aimed at driving out insurgents who had made a stronghold there.
At least 38 members of the U.S. military and six Iraqi soldiers have died in the offensive, according to the Pentagon.
Burger, who was based at Camp Pendleton in California, is the third Marine from Maryland to die in Iraq in the past week. One from Woodbridge also was killed in the fighting.
Burger's family remembers him as a caring person, full of life. When he was a teenager, he gave up his Christmas mornings to pack and deliver meals-on-wheels to invalids, his mother said.
When he was grown, he carried his disabled father up the stairs, cradled in his arms like a child.
His large family was proud of him. Last Wednesday, his 5-year-old nephew, Kyle Frost, brought his photograph to a pre-Veterans Day celebration at his kindergarten in Englewood, Fla., and the image was published in the local newspaper.
When Burger was home this summer and the entire family was gathered for his father's funeral, he cherished his time with his seven sisters.
"He was very protective of us," said his sister, Jennifer Burger. "It's so hard. It meant so much for him to be a Marine."
He saw Iraq the way his father saw Vietnam, his mother said.
"He saw the people," Martina Burger said. "It
was not just the war we saw on TV."
Marine inspired by his father is killed in
Dale Burger Jr., a 21-year-old Marine from Bel Air, Maryland, who was killed in Iraq, was inspired by his father to become one of "the few and the proud," his mother said Tuesday.
Burger, a rifleman, died Sunday in the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, the Pentagon said. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
He was just two weeks from being released and returning home. Burger is the fourth Marylander killed in Iraq in the past five days.
It was Burger's second deployment to Iraq, said his mother, Martina Burger of Port Deposit. He served at the beginning of the U.S. attack, from January to June of 2003 and came home to Maryland before returning to Iraq last spring.
Eight days ago, he was wounded, taking shrapnel in his arm. Saturday, he called his mother to say he was headed back into the attack.
"I said, 'Why are you going back on the line? You're going home in a couple of weeks,'" Martina Burger said in a telephone interview from her home in Cecil County. She said her son answered: "I have to. We have some fatalities, we're short on guys and I'm needed."
Burger's Marine dress photo was picked up on Veterans Day last week by The Associated Press. His nephew, 5-year-old Kyle Frost of Englewood, Fla., proudly displayed a picture of his uncle to a photographer for The (Sarasota) Herald-Tribune.
Kyle's mother is one of Burger's five half-sisters, Martina Burger said.
She last saw her son in June, when he came home for his father's funeral. Dale Burger Sr., a Vietnam veteran, was close to his son, Martina Burger said. Like his dad, Burger was just 17 when he signed up for the Marines.
"Ever since he was 6 years old, he wanted to be a Marine," his mother said.
Soon after he joined the Marines, he was deployed to Kuwait. There, he saw "the good of representing Americans," Martina Burger said.
He also saw the good in liberating Baghdad, she said.
"He said, 'All these people came out and shook our hands and thanked us. That's why I'm here, Mom.' He said you don't see this on the news," she said.
"He was not one of those badass Marines. He cared about people."
He was leaving the Marines to try to become a Maryland State Police trooper, Martina Burger said.
But he told his mother in June, as they left his father's graveside in Arlington National Cemetery, that if anything happened to him he wanted to be buried near his dad.
She has been assured he'll get his wish, she
Burial unites son, father at Arlington
After burying her husband in May at Arlington National Cemetery,
a Port Deposit woman returns to lay to rest her child, a Marine corporal who was killed November 14, 2004 in Iraq
By Josh Mitchell
Courtesy of the Baltimore Sun
November 29, 2004
ARLINGTON, Virginia - For the second time this year, Martina C. Burger sat beside a casket at Arlington National Cemetery as a Marine placed in her lap a neatly folded American flag.
Having buried her husband in May, Burger said goodbye Monday to her only son, Marine Corporal Dale A Burger Jr. The 21-year-old Bel Air, Maryland, native, who was killed November 14, 2004, during fighting in Iraq, was saluted by 21 rounds fired by seven Marine riflemen and the mournful strains of taps.
Before about 100 mourners, Burger was laid to rest next to his father, Dale A. Burger Sr., a Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War who died in May of complications from a heart attack. The elder Burger was 54.
Service personnel killed in the Iraq war are usually buried in section 60 of the cemetery, a vast, open lawn that can accommodate large gatherings. But Dale Burger's family requested that he be buried in section 54, near the cemetery's main entrance, which contains the graves of those killed in various wars.
Relatives said the burial site is fitting because Burger and his father often seemed inseparable in life.
"He wanted to follow in his footsteps and make his father proud of him," said Lori Burger, one of seven sisters Dale Burger Jr. leaves behind.
Burger's admiration for his father grew when the elder Burger, who was shot in Vietnam and almost lost his arm, was hospitalized with a serious illness in the early 1990s.
The father lost much of his mobility and never fully recovered, but he never lost the energy to bond with his son, Martina Burger said. She said the son often played the role of care taker.
"He would pick up his dad off the wheelchair and carry him up the stairs like a child," Martina Burger said. "My son had a red pickup truck, and he would take my husband off-roading. I wouldn't approve of it, but that was the kind of boy he was. He loved his dad."
The younger Burger was a rifleman assigned to the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Marine Regiment, which is part of the 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force. He was two weeks shy of completing his second tour in Iraq. Several days before he was killed, Burger was struck by shrapnel in his arm.
But he told his mother in a phone conversation that he was eager to return to action to help his buddies. He felt a sense of obligation to help stabilize Iraq, said Lori Burger, who last saw her brother when they attended their father's funeral in May.
"That was what he told his mother, 'We need to be here,' " Lori Burger said. " 'You don't understand -- these people need us. The media shows the bad things, but what the media doesn't show you is the people thanking us. We're there to free them, and I'm doing the right thing.' "
Burger sent his final e-mail to his family the day before he died.
"It's just so surreal because it says how he plans on coming home December 3rd or 4th," Lori Burger said.
Burger was killed in Al Anbar province, an embattled region that includes the city of Fallujah. He was on patrol when he was shot in the head by enemy fire, Lori Burger said.
Burger is the 18th servicemen from Maryland killed in Iraq. Of the more than 1,200 American troops killed during the war, he is the 96th to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, said Barbara Owens, a cemetery spokeswoman. All those killed in Iraq have the option of being buried in the nation's cemetery, Owens said.
Monday morning, before the burial in Arlington, Martina Burger read a brief eulogy at a funeral service in Perryville, a short distance from her home in Port Deposit.
In an interview last week, Burger spoke of how her son became depressed and dropped out of Bel Air High School after his father fell ill. Burger later attained a GED certificate so he could join the Marine Corps, a childhood ambition inspired by his father.
Martina Burger said she has questioned the war but does not regret her son's decision to join the military. "It made him the man he was," she said.
She added: "I keep reminding myself that I'm
a wife of a Marine and a mother of a Marine. So I have to be strong. You
remind yourself every day who you are. I think that's what my son would
have said to me or my husband would have said to me: 'Remember who you
About six months ago, Marine Corporal Dale A. Burger Jr. stood in Section 54 of Arlington National Cemetery and saluted his father's coffin.
And soon after the funeral, the young rifleman from Port Deposit, a community northeast of Baltimore, returned to Iraq to serve a second tour.
Yesterday, Burger, 21, was buried with full military honors two headstones away from his father.
Burger, who was assigned to the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, died in Iraq on Nov. 14 as the result of enemy action in Anbar province. The military has not released further details, but the province includes Fallujah, where Army troops and Marines launched a major assault to drive out insurgents.
He was the fourth Marine from Maryland to die in Iraq in a one-week period.
Burger's mother, Martina, was again at Arlington yesterday -- to receive the folded flag from her son's coffin, just as she had months before at the funeral for her husband, Dale A. Burger Sr., a Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War.
Just as before, Staff Sergeant Charles E. Dorsey, the Marine Corps funeral director, was there to place the flag in her hands.
They remembered one another, Dorsey said.
"I looked into her eyes, and I got a little choked up," said Dorsey, a veteran of many funerals. He searched for the right words for the bereaved wife and mother.
"On behalf of my family, the Dorsey family and the Marines standing here from Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., please accept our sympathy," he recalled saying to her.
"She was crying," he added.
He kissed her on the cheek.
Martina Burger could not be reached for comment yesterday. But in an interview with The Washington Post soon after she received news of her son's death, she reflected on his life and the importance he placed on following his father's path into the Marine Corps. His father had been injured in the Vietnam War, and later, during a medical procedure, became more severely disabled.
The younger Burger was based at Camp Pendleton in California. When he came back home to Maryland, he would carry his disabled father up the stairs, cradling him in his arms like a child.
His mother said the two men saw their wars as deeply personal experiences. "It was not just the war we saw on TV," she said.
She said she did not understand the war in Iraq and once told her son so. She recalled his reply: "Mom, I'm not supposed to talk about it, but those people need us. We need to help them."
About a week before he died, he was struck with shrapnel in the forearm and had to sit out a few days because of the injury. The day before he died, he called his mother to tell her he was going back into battle. He didn't want to let his fellow Marines down.
1 December 2004:
Corporal Dale Burger Jr. and his father shared more than just a name. Both joined the Marines at 17 and both were combat veterans. As a boy, Burger dressed up in his dad's uniform for Halloween. He helped care for his father after the older man became an invalid a decade ago.
Father and son now share one last thing, a gravesite. Killed November 14, 2004, in Iraq, Dale Jr., 21, of Bel Air, Maryland, was buried Monday at Arlington National Cemetery next to his father, a Vietnam veteran who died in May at 54.
"He said, `If anything happens to me, I want to be buried near my dad,'" said the younger man's mother, Martina Burger.
The Pentagon reported 135 U.S. troops killed in November as of Tuesday morning, matching April of this year for the deadliest month since fighting began in March 2003.
Many, like Burger, were killed in the street-to-street fight to retake the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah or during gunbattles in cities such as Baghdad and Mosul. Others were killed by snipers, in accidents or from shrapnel sprayed by roadside bombs. Some died where they were hit; others succumbed at stateside military hospitals.
Dale Burger Jr. took part in the initial assault on Iraq in 2003. He was just days away from the end of his second tour of duty when he was killed. He was wounded in the arm by shrapnel recently but told his mother he planned to return to the fighting. She urged him not to, but he said his unit was short on men and needed him.
"He died doing what he believed in," Martina Burger said. "He's my hero. I'm just so proud of him."
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Maryland – A solemn ceremony to dedicate a building honoring Corporal Dale A. Burger Jr. was held March 1, 2006, at the Marine Detachment, U.S. Army Ordinance Center and Schools at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
Officers of Burger’s former command spoke on the leadership and selfless actions Burger exuded while leading Marines in Iraq.
His mother was presented Burger’s Silver Star
for his heroic actions that ultimately led to his death.
Burger’s Marine Corps career began on Parris Island, South Carolina. He completed his basic and infantry training nd was then stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines.
Before deploying to Iraq, Burger completed mountain warfare training in California. During the training, several Marines succumbed to hypothermia. Burger selflessly used his own body heat to raise the body temperatures of the other Marines until he too required medical attention. For his heroic actions during the training, Burger was awarded a Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
While in Iraq during the second battle of Fallujah, Burger’s battalion was involved in intense house-to-house fighting. Burger’s squad leader was injured during the fighting, and Burger stepped up to assume the squad leader’s duties. While leading an assault against a fairly large group of insurgents held up in a building, he was wounded and evacuated for medical treatment. Three days later, Burger volunteered to return to his Marines and continue to fight by their side despite his injuries.
Burger was so eager to return to his Marines, he showed up with no gear and no weapon. He had just caught the first ride he could to meet up with the rest of his platoon, said Major Brett Clark, Corporal Burger’s former company commander.
After returning, Burger’s platoon was involved in yet another firefight, during which he came upon three critically wounded Marines. Inside a house, numerous insurgents were barricaded behind fortified positions, keeping the Marines pinned down and not allowing other leathernecks to advance and save the injured Marines. Burger showed remarkable heroism and valor by charging into the house to recover the fallen Marines, according to his Silver Star citation. While returning fire, Burger was mortally wounded by an insurgent’s bullet.
Martina C. Burger, said that she knew her son was the type of person who would have acted that way.“Everything that I heard today was nothing new,” said Martina Burger. “it’s what I expected from him.”
Martina Burger knew her son was a very compassionate person. He used to follow her to Meals on Wheels to help deliver food for the needy on Christmas morning while his sisters were opening gifts.
“I knew that there was something exceptional about this young man, but I didn’t know how exceptional until I heard about everything he had done in Iraq,” Martina Burger said.
She said her son was a humble man. He probably would have been embarrassed to see the ceremony in his honor.
“He’s probably saying, ‘They’re making too much of nothing because I was just doing my job,’” she said. “This is a great honor to our family. It’s been really hard. When you’re son dies, it’s like your heart gets ripped apart.”
Clark spoke at the ceremony about the actions of Burger. He spoke to the audience of Burger’s exceptional leadership and sacrifice.
“He was a fantastic Marine, and that’s an understatement,” Clark said. “It was my honor to serve with him.”
BURGER, DALE ALAN JR
CPL US MARINE CORPS
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 01/22/2001 - 11/14/2004
DATE OF BIRTH: 07/09/1983
DATE OF DEATH: 11/14/2004
DATE OF INTERMENT: 11/29/2004
BURIED AT: SECTION 54 SITE 121
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
BURGER, DALE ALLAN
Photos By M. R. Patterson, 2 December 2004
Photos Courtesy of Holly, June 2006