Service Number: 287677
Birth and Early Life:
Edward Burke was born around the year 1920; he was the son of William and Elizabeth Burke of Providence, Rhode Island.
Enlistment and Boot Camp:
Burke joined the Corps on July 12, 1940, and was sent to Parris Island for boot training. Next, he attended Sea School at the Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Virginia, and joined the crew of the USS Quincy on December 12.
As with most junior Marines on their first voyage, Private Burke’s first duty was to serve as an attendant in the Quincy’s Marine mess. His first year on the cruiser took him across the Atlantic from Maine to South Africa to Iceland as they escorted convoys, performed “neutrality patrols” to keep German U-boats at a safe distance, and conducted amphibious landing exercises. After twelve months aboard, Burke was promoted to Private First Class and assigned as a gun striker on one of Quincy’s 5-inch antiaircraft guns.
Quincy joined the Pacific fleet in June, 1942, and sailed for New Zealand where she joined the fleet preparing to invade the Solomon Islands. On August 7, her main batteries fired some of the first rounds of the Guadalcanal campaign, and her antiaircraft gunners had a busy time defending against marauding Japanese aircraft as the grunt Marines landed on the beaches and began moving inland.
With the landings complete, Quincy moved out to patrol and protect the transports still offloading supplies.
Date Of Loss:
PFC Burke was awakened by the Quincy’s general quarters alarm shortly before 0200 on August 9, 1942. As he rushed to his battle station, he would have felt the impact of large-caliber shells, and the wrenching force of torpedo explosions as Quincy was caught in a Japanese crossfire.
Exactly where Burke died isn’t known. While his last known assignment was with a 5″ gun, his brother Raymond Burke, recalled that Edward was serving as the bodyguard for Captain Samuel Moore when the Quincy was attacked. A survivor of the sinking told Raymond how Edward died – set afire by some catastrophe, the young PFC ran to throw himself into the ocean, but misjudged the distance and hit the deck instead. Mercifully, the fall killed him.
The Quincy sank at 0238, taking Edward Burke to a grave he would share with 369 of his shipmates.
Next Of Kin:
Mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Slayton
Status Of Remains:
Lost at sea
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.