News: A call to arms: Vietnam veteran returns to Corps
Story by Cpl. Laura Gauna
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – The events that unfolded on Sept. 11, 2001, shocked the nation. While the tragedy enraged many, countless others were inspired to stand and fight, including one veteran who had already been to war and back.
When 9/11 struck, Jim Burke was 55 years old. Following the attack, this Vietnam veteran, who had served in the Marine Corps infantry for 24 years, dropped his day job and returned to military operations.
“I needed to get back,” said Jim Burke, a native of Manhattan, N.Y. “Young men and women were going in harm’s way, and I couldn’t just sit there in silence.”
After a couple of defense jobs in the private sector, Burke took a job with the Marine Corps Center for Lessons Learned, where he provided vital information to service members on various military topics.
While working with MCCLL, Burke improved pre-deployment training programs by providing role players, mountain warfare facilities, first aid training, and battlefield props, such as explosives and AK-47 assault rifles.
“I enjoy the opportunity to help Marines,” explained Burke. “In the almost-five decades that I’ve been involved with the Marine Corps, I’ve seen young Americans excel. I’ve seen the type of people in our Corps, what they do, and how being in the Marine Corps brings out the best in them. That’s why I do what I do.”
MCCLL uses observations, insight, recommendations, and lessons learned from Marines on the battlefield or in contingency operations and presents them online or through reports so others can benefit from them. Furthermore, instructors at various military schools are able to see the latest tactics, techniques, and procedures with respect to their specializations.
Burke is dedicated to his job and feels it can be very beneficial to Marines all over the world, if only they would seek the information.
“Marines will always figure out a way to solve just about everything,” said Burke. “They don’t like to ask for help. They are very self-reliant and, as a result, they do not use the lessons-learned resources that they have to the degree that they could.”
By returning to the defense field as an MCCLL representative, Burke is able to reunite with the Marines and promote the use of information available through the MCCLL program. He also knows the importance of mentorship and strives to be an estimable figure for others to emulate.
“(A good role model) is very important for young Marines,” said Burke. “They can always take something from their leaders. I try to be someone they can look up to.”
In his early years, Burke’s motivation was to prove he could excel in the Marine Corps. As he matured, his focus turned to improving himself to become more of a well-rounded person.
Currently, he wants to prove that he is still a Marine at heart. Recently, he completed an 11-mile hike with several Marines, and even though he was the last person to finish, he was proud to train with them.
Through his 24 years of service, Burke has gained a tremendous amount of knowledge, which he hopes to share with those around him.
“I know America has real enemies and being a Marine is extremely important,” said Burke. “The idea that young men and women come out of high school or college and decide to join the Marines is admirable. What they are doing is defending the American way of life. I want to help them on their journey.”
Burke will continue to serve his country and Marines for as long as he is able.