Cerro Gordo County

Pvt. William A. Burke




Mason Cityans In the Armed Services

What They’re Doing


Pvt. William A. Burke of the United States marine corps, son of Mrs. Ida Burke, 410 Fifth street southeast, has written from Honolulu, Hawaii. He mentioned that he often sees Father Maurice Mullan, former Mason Cityan now an army chaplain. Burke joined the marine corps Jan. 28, 1942. He is in the aircraft group.

Source: The Globe Gazette, Mason City, Iowa, Thursday, April 16, 1942, Page 20 (photo included)

Local Marine Is on Midway

Pvt. William A. Burke of the United States marine corps, son of Mrs. Ida Burke, 416 Fifth street southeast, is stationed on Midway island, scene of the huge naval battle in which Yankee forces took a heavy toll of the Japanese fleet and aircraft.

Burke was on of the marine garrisons which prevented the Japs from landing on that strategic Pacific post. He had previously been stationed in Honolulu. The local marine enlisted Jan. 28.

In a recent letter to his mother he told of finding the Midway marines were supplied with canned meat bearing the label of the Jacob E. Decker and Sons plant in Mason City. In the same letter he remarked that “It keeps up the morale to get mail from home.” He said he hadn’t had a letter for two months, then received 17 in one mail.

Source: The Globe Gazette, Mason City, Iowa, Monday, June 08, 1942, Page 8

Rites for Burke, Killed at
Midway, Planned Wednesday

Mother Is Notified of Death
of Local Marine in Battle

Requiem high mass for Pvt. William A. Burke, son of Mrs. Ida Burke, 410 Fifth street southeast, will be celebrated Wednesday morning at 9:30 at St. Joseph’s Catholic church by Father Gerald Steiert. Private Burke, a United States marine, was killed in action during the recent battle at Midway Island, his mother was notified Sunday morning in a telegram from a marine corps lieutenant general.

Notification of Private Burke’s death gave no details. It stated that he was killed “in the performance of his duty and while serving his country.” It said also that interment temporarily would be in the locality where the death occurred. His mother received two letters dated May 30 from him Monday morning. In his letters he said the marine corps was “tops.”

The Mason Cityan quit his studies in the local junior college after attending for a year and one-half to enlist in the marine corps on Jan. 28 of this year. He received his training in the marine corps base in San Diego, Cal., and was known to be in the corps’ aircraft group. He was sent to Honolulu in April, and in mid-April was sent to Midway.

He attended the Legion-sponsored Boy’s State two years ago and was the first Boy’s Stater to be killed in action in World war II. His father was a veteran of the first World war. Mason City delegates to Boy’s State, who returned from Grinnell Monday night, will attend the mass Wednesday.

Members of the American Legion and Auxiliary and V. F. W. and Auxiliary and their color guards will also attend the mass.

Private Burke was prominent in local activities. He was a member of the Holy Name society of St. Joseph’s church, a member of the Collegiate club in Junior college, and at one time was an assistant sports-writer for the Globe-Gazette. He was also a former Globe-Gazette carrier boy.

He was born June 15, 1923. Burke attended grade and high schools at St. Joseph’s, and then enrolled in junior college.

He is survived by his mother, two brothers, Jack, 17, and Bob, 15, all at home, and a grandmother, Mrs. Josephine Fox of New Haven. He was preceded in death by his father and brother.

The Meyer funeral home is in charge of arrangements for the service.

Source: The Globe Gazette, Mason City, Iowa, Monday, June 15, 1942, Page 1


Patriotic Groups at Rites
for Marine Killed at Midway

Requiem high mass for Pvt. William A. Burke, son of Mrs. Ida Burke, 420 Fifth street southeast, was celebrated Wednesday morning at St. Joseph’s Catholic church by Father Gerald Steiert. The mass was sung by the St. Joseph’s school children’s choir.

Private Burke, 18, a United States marine, was killed in action during the recent battle at Midway island.

Honorary pallbearers at the services were James Gross, james Pattee, Donald Skyles, Harlan Alitz, John McClung, Dale Pax, John Madden, Dick Cahlan, Locke Easten and Bob Mott.

Ushers at the church were Victor Coyle, B. H. Dunn and E. M. Nagle. Elias Kelroy was in charge of arrangements.

Bob Fontana, Grinnell, governor of Boys State, wired to Commander Roy Kiser, Clausen-Worden post of the American Legion, condolences for the first Boys Stater to be killed in action.

“We wish to express our deepest regrets of the death of Bill Burke, killed in action at Midway, but every Boys Stater would be willing to do the same for his country if called upon.”

The Mason Cityan attended the Legion sponsored Boys State two years ago.

Organizations attending in groups were the American legion and American Legion Auxiliary, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and V. F. W. Auxiliary, Gold Star Mothers, the Navy Mothers, Boys State members and the Spanish-American War veterans and Auxiliary, and the classmates of Private Burke.

Attending the services from out of the city were Mrs. Josephine Fox, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Michael, Mrs. Frank Marley, Mr. and Mrs. Matt Fox, Mrs. Walter Fox, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Mauster, Mrs. Josie Miller, Mrs. Kate Fox, Mrs. Gertie Fox, Mrs. Garlan Fox, Mrs. Casper Fox, and Amy Green and Grace Lockwood, all of New Haven, Iowa; Mrs. Allie Wagner and Bob, and Mrs. William Greeley of Riceville, and Madeline Marley, Waterloo.

Interment was made temporarily in the locality where death occurred. The Meyer funeral home was in charge of arrangements in Mason City.

Source: The Globe Gazette, Mason City, Iowa, Wednesday, June 17, 1942, Page 8

Brave Son, Brave Mother

THE GLOBE-GAZETTE in this little editorial believes it speaks for the Mason City community in extending deepest sympathy to Mrs. Ida Burke of Mason City in the death of her son, Private William A. Burke of the U. S. marine corps. He died, a hero, in the defense of Midway Island.

Bill Burke is remembered here as the typical American boy, active in school activities, possessing an infectious smile, the pal of everybody. Around the Globe-Gazette office, he is recalled for the help he gave in the news coverage of St. Joseph school sports contests. Before that he was a carrier boy, and a good one.

Bill was just 18 years old, 3 years away from the draft. But when the Japanese plunged United States into the war, he didn’t wait. He left Junior college in mid-year to enroll in the marines. Men looking for a soft spot don’t join this branch of service.

His enlistment was on Jan. 28, 1942. After two months of schooling at the marine base in San Diego, he was sent to Honolulu. From there he moved on to that tiny speck in the great Pacific called Midway. Death came to him in action. Details have not been received. The cryptic note from the war department said only that he had been “killed in the performance of his duty for his country.”

This Mason City mother in the past few years has been called upon three occasions to drink deeply from the bowl of grief. Many others under like conditions would be broken in spirit as well as of heart. But not Mrs. Burke. She has been the good soldier on the homefront as her son proved himself on the battle front.

“It’s the price we must pay to maintain our freedom,” she told a neighbor through her tears on the day the sad intelligence of her son’s death reached her.

The name of Bill Burke is etched deep in the list of Iowa’s war heroes and his mother has in full measure both the sympathy and the admiration of the Mason City community.

Source: The Globe Gazette, Mason City, Iowa, Friday, June 19, 1942, Page 4

Maine Corps Lauds Burke for Record

Mrs. Ida Burke, 410 Fifth street southeast, has received a letter from Lieut. General T. Holcomb of the United States marine corps in which he informed her that her son, Pvt. William A. Burke, of the marine corps, “lost his life in action against the enemies of his country.”

 “Due to the military situation prevailing at the place of death it was necessary to bury the remains of your son at sea on June 6,” the officer wrote.

Private Burke was killed in action on June 4 during the Midway island battle in which Yankee forces smashed a Japanese invasion armada.

“I wish to express my deepest sympathy to you and members of your family in your great loss,” wrote the marine corps officer. He added, “There is little I can say to lessen your grief, but it is my earnest hope that the knowledge of your son’s splendid record in the service, and the though that he nobly gave his life in the performance of his duty may in some measure comfort you in this sad hour.”

Source: The Globe Gazette, Mason City, Iowa, Tuesday, June 23, 1942, Page 14

Purple Heart for Mason City
Marine Killed at Midway

Pvt. William Burke Posthumously
Given Decoration of Merit

For military merit and for wounds received in action resulting in his death on June 4, 1942, Pvt. William A. Burke, U. S. marine corps reserve, was posthumously awarded the purple heart decoration by the government of the United States. It was received on July 12, 1943, by his mother, Mrs. Ida Burke, 410 Fifth street southeast.

A letter which Mrs. Burke received from the marine headquarters also informed her that she is entitled to the Asiatic-Pacific campaign medal for her son. These will not be issued until six months after the way.

Private Burke enlisted in the service on Jan. 28, 1941, in the aircraft group. He was stationed for a time in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was sent to Midway in June, when the fighting for that island was the fiercest, and he was killed in action eleven days before his 19th birthday.

Source: The Globe Gazette, Mason City, Iowa, Wednesday, July 14, 1943, Page 11