Thoughts on My Life
by R.V. Burgin
do I hope to be remembered? First and foremost as a man of honor, courage, and
commitment, as a good father and husband, and as a decent responsible human
being. It’s also important to me that my family, friends, and others close
to me not forget that I was a Marine who fought with K Company, 3rd Battalion,
5th Regiment, 1st Marine Division at Cape Gloucester, New Britain, Peleliu,
and Okinawa. And although I’ve never pictured myself as a hero, I’d
also like them to remember that I received the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart
for my service in those hostile, faraway places to a country that I dearly love.
I’m proud of the fact that I was the sergeant who led the mortar squad that included Eugene Sledge, author of With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa, one of the most widely read memoirs to come out of World War II. I consider it an honor that Gene saw fit to mention me prominently in his book, as did author Bill Sloan in his two military histories, Brotherhood of Heroes (about Peleliu) and The Ultimate Battle (about Okinawa).
The two years, seven months and 26 days that I spent in the Pacific combat zone were the most memorable period of my life. Not only was I honored to serve there (and extremely lucky to survive), but I was also fortunate enough to meet my wife, Florence, during that time – and I’ll always be grateful for that. I know that this same period produced many thousands of individual true stories about American fighting men besides my own, and I believe that each of these stories deserves to be told, retold, written, and re-written so that none will ever be forgotten.
My life after the war has also been notable, however, for a variety of reasons. I’d like to be remembered for the influence that I’ve been able to have on many young men in our church, as well as on my own children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. It’s a great source of pride to me that all four of our daughters were able to attend college. And I hope that members of the K/3/5 Association, which I’ve served as secretary for many years, will recall with appreciation the countless hours that I’ve enjoyably spent in service to that organization.
After returning to civilian life in the postwar world, this hard-scrabble farm boy had a long career with the United States Postal Service, during which I received successive promotions from my original entry-level job to foreman, general foreman, tour superintendent, and superintendent. In the three decades since I retired from the Post Office on the day I turned 55 years old, I’ve had ample time to indulge in my favorite pastimes – hunting, fishing, gardening, and the outdoors in general. Florence and I have also had the opportunity for extensive travel to many parts of the world, including several unforgettable visits to her native Australia.
Finally, I want to thank God for giving me a long, productive, rewarding life and blessing me with a wonderful wife, a marvelous family, dozens of lifelong Marine Corps buddies, and other friends too numerous to count.
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