Edward D. Burke

Edward Dennis Burke
Marine Detachment
USS Quincy
Gun Striker / Orderly
87 John Street, Providence, RI
Mother, Mrs. Elizabeth C. Slayton
June 10, 1922
July 12, 1940
August 9, 1942
Solomon Islands
Guadalcanal / Savo Island
Missing In Action
Declared Dead August 10, 1943
PFC Edward Burke served aboard the USS Quincy (CA-39) during the campaign for the Solomon Islands.

Early in the morning of 9 August 1942, Quincy was patrolling off Savo Island when she was suddenly illuminated by Japanese searchlights. Between 0155 and 0215, the Quincy was struck by dozens of large caliber shells. As a captain’s orderly, Burke was probably on the bridge when it was struck and set on fire by a direct hit. He attempted to jump overboard, but misjudged the distance and fell to the deck below.

PFC Burke was not seen again after the Quincy went down at 0238.  Initially listed as missing in action, he was declared dead as of 10 August 1943.

Purple Heart
Private First Class
Lost at sea
Rhode Island Veterans Memorial
Manila American Cemetery

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7 Replies to “Edward D. Burke”

  1. Whoever wrote this piece of fiction, in part; you are being corrected by a family member, Dorothy R. Znosko, (niece of Edward) who never got to meet Edward as my UNCLE and thank him for serving our country. Please read on:

    PFC Edward Dennis Burke, USMC, who was my mother’s brother, was NOT onboard the ship when it sank. Edward’s brother, Raymond J. Burke, was told many years later by a co-resident at the same retirement home in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, who asked Raymond if he was related to Edward Burke, as the resident served on the USS Quincy with Edward and survived the battle.

    The resident told Raymond that Edward was at his battle station TOPSIDE and was set aflame during the attack; he told Raymond that Edward must have thought he was jumping into the water. In actuality, Edward hit the deck and was killed. His body was never recovered; he is officially listed as “Missing At Sea”, in the Battle of Savo Island August, 9, 1942. My grandmother and mother never revealed this truth to Raymond.

    Ironically, my father, Edward J. Znosko, United States Navy, was aboard the Heavy Cruiser USS Chicago (CA 29)* on August 9, 1942, in the very same Battle of Savo Island. My father survived and married Edward’s sister, Dorothy, in January of 1945. Dorothy was a Navy Ensign (Nurse) who met my father at Newport Naval Hospital where he was a patient.

    * The first USS Chicago (CA-20) was it by a Japanese destroyer torpedo in the Battle of Savo Island; Chicago fought damage while continuing to engage until contact with the enemy was lost. Chicago was repaired at Noumea, Sydney, and San Francisco, where she arrived 13 October, 1942. It was sunk during the Battle of Rennell Island, 30 January 1943.

    1. Hello Dorothy,

      Thank you for the correction, and I apologize for any offense I may have caused. Unfortunately there are very few surviving accounts of the fates of individual marines aboard the Quincy; the majority of them served with her 5-inch secondary batteries (as with other ships of her class) and a July, 1942 muster roll lists PFC Burke’s battle station as “gunstriker, 5″ AA gun” it was my belief that he had been caught below decks with other members of the gun crews.

      My great uncle, Lt. Commander Edmund Billings, was the communications officer for the USS Quincy; he was on the bridge when it was set afire by an explosion and managed to make it to the deck, where he was last seen badly wounded encouraging the men to fight on. Like PFC Burke, his body was never found and he is also officially missing at sea.

      Again, thank you for sharing this story, and again, please accept my apology for the mistake. I will correct Edward Burke’s entry as soon as possible.


      1. His brother Raymond relayed that PFC Edward Dennis Burke, USMC was the guard for the Captain of the ship.

      2. That very well could be the case. The last surviving muster roll for the ship was taken in July, 1942; any other paperwork would have been lost when she went down. Here is PFC Burke on that document:

        He might have been reassigned more recently as guard for Captain Samuel Moore, or perhaps had a double duty – though that seems unlikely, as the Captain’s guard was a full-time position.

        In that case, our relatives might have been close by one another when they were hit. As Moore’s bodyguard Burke would have been close by the Captain at all times during action; the Captain was killed on the Quincy’s bridge. Lt. Cdr. Billings was also on the bridge, lost half of his face and was set on fire by the shell that hit the bridge. An officer who arrived shortly thereafter found everyone on the bridge dead or dying, with the exception of the helmsman.

      3. It would make sense that Edward Burke’s battle station was manning the Gunstriker 5″ (?) AA Gun when he was set afire.

      4. And thanks for that informational piece! Will pass it on Facebook to family 🙂

      5. Of course! I’m happy to help out, and as I mentioned I’ll be sure to update PFC Burke’s entry with the story you provided.

        A “gun striker” (as near as I remember) was responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the crew’s weapon; I have an acquaintance who was aboard the USS Lexington on a 5″ gun identical to those on the Quincy, so he will probably have an idea. And of course PFC Burke may have been at the gun, or with the Captain as bodyguard when he was hit. It just struck me that our two ancestors should have fought and died on the same ship in such a similar manner.


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