Conflict Period:
Vietnam War 1
Army 1
Corporal 1
05 Sep 1948 1
28 Feb 1969 1

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Personal Details

Full Name:
Richard Allen Burns 1
05 Sep 1948 1
Male 1
28 Feb 1969 1
Cause: Artillery, Rocket, Mortar 1
Age at Death: 20 1
Body Recovered: Recovered 1
Casualty Date: 27 Feb 1969 1
Casualty Type: Hostile, Died of Wounds 1
Hometown: Fontana, CA 1
Marital Status: Single 1

Vietnam War 1

Army 1
Corporal 1
3rd Bn 1
B Co 1
Enlistment Type:
Selective Service 1
+ E3 1
Major Command:
101st Abn Div 1
506th Infantry 1
Army 1
Light Weapons Infantry (ARMY) 1
Tour Start Date:
03 Apr 1968 1
Years Served:
1 1
Roman Catholic 1
Race or Ethnicity:
Caucasian 1
Memorial Wall Location:
Line: 89 1
Panel: 31W 1

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I wanted to learn more about Cpl. Burns after reading an excerpt from Tom Brokaw's book titled "Boom". Brokaw wrote a story about Army iLOT Nellie Coakley, who was a triage nurse at a MASH unit near Xuan Loc in February 1969 when she witnessed the violent deat of Cpl. Burns. "I was called up to triage and there was a young soldier on a gurney. I asked if there was anything I could do and they said, 'no, he's already dead. Nellie had been on duty for 11 months and knew the rules: Don't personalize things, don't read their dog tags. But for some reason, she could not resist. 'We would put a paper tag around their wrist, msort of like a luggage tag. I looked at that. His name was Richard Burns. I stroked his cheek, and I thought, my god, his mother doesn't even know he is dead yet. I wen t on duty that night, thinking Cpl. Burns was out of my life. He was with the 101st Abn. out of Phan Tiet, and we had a lot of caulaties from that area in my ward that night. Almost everyone was sleeping except for one soldier was was chain-smoking. I asked him if he was okay, and he said, well, this great guy from my unit got hit today and I was wondering how he was doing. I said, what's his name and I will find out for you. He said Richard Burns. I had to tell him Richard died. I could see him just lock down. He got very quiet and stiff. I said, if you need to cry, it's okay. Everyone is asleep. He cried and talked about Richard with me for a couple of hours." Cpl Burns had just over a month left in his tour when he was killed. He was on pulling perimeter guard in a bunker position at his LZ when the enemy launched a mortar attack. A mortar round landed directly on his bunker, seriously wounding him, mangling his legs. He died of his wounds 6 days later. His final resting place is at Montecito cemetery in San Bernardino, CA.

Nellie Harness Coakley
nurse present, when Richard died. 7th, Mash, Hospital
7, College Street, Canton, N.Y., 13617, USA
Nurse's Commentary
I was present, when Richard died. His name tag, was the only one, I ever read in triage. I believe, I was meant to, because we had many men come in, from his platoon, that day and I helped comfort a friend, the first night and his Lt., the next, while I was, on night duty. He must have been, a wonderful human being, because he was obviously highly thought of and deeply loved, by the men, in his platoon. I have so often wanted, to tell his parents what a wonderful son, they must have raised, how very sorry I'am, that he died and that, we gave him our very best, at our hospital. I always look him up, at the Wall, when I'm in DC.. Wednesday, September 29, 1999

Jon  Iverson
Friend of his younger brother
Fontana CA
Richard mentioned on TV tonight
Tonight, Saturday, Jan 23, 2010, I was watching a program on the History channel, 1968 with Tom Brokaw. Army Nurse Nelly Harness Coakley relayed an experience that involved Cpl Burns. Ms. Coakley relays that same experience below that she was present when Cpl Burns passed away in triage and that his was the only dog tag she had ever read. The memory of his passing must have seared a great scar in her memory that 40 years later it can still be so fresh, still be so tramatic. I was friends with Cpl Burns' younger brother Glenn. I also was a paper boy for the local newspaper The Fontana Herald News and I remember my sadness of reading of his passing while I folded my newspapers that day. Thought I would pass along the above info should the family be interested. God bless Cpl Burns. Jan 23, 2010

Jane Fulkerson(Photo Credits)
Currahee Researcher
POB., 364, Plentywood, Montana, 59254, USA Richard Allen Burns, was born, Septmeber 5, 1948, the oldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Gerald R. Burns, of Fontana, California. Also surviving him, were his two, brothers: Michael and Glenn. Richard served, with the 3rd, Battalion, 506th, Infantry, (Currahees) 101st, Airborne, Division and was scheduled to leave Vietnam, April 3rd, of 1969. He was killed, on February 28th, so he had about a month left, to serve in country. Seven, Currahees, were killed, when two "booby traps," exploded. Godspeed Currahees!
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

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