JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - For some, the accomplishments of the past are just that. But for Spc. Ron Burton, his deeds back in college are a constant reminder of what excellence can do to leave a lasting mark on the future.
His impressive athletic stats are nothing to scoff at; from 1990 to 1994 as a middle-linebacker at just 200 pounds he was first for tackles during his senior year with an average of 18-20 per game, he set the school record for tackles in a game with 21 against Missouri S&T in 1993 with a career total of 416, he also played on the universities 1st division, 2nd all star league as well as the MIAA team also in 1993.
Ironically, his jersey number during this time was '20', potentially foreshadowing to the opposing team how many times they could expect him to catch them unaware and knock them down. This jersey number would later be retired in his honor after his time in school was over, as was his high school jersey during the years before his time in college.
Burton also holds the record for 2nd and 9th highest per-season tackle totals for the university and is 7th in carrier totals for the school.
"My nickname back then was Ron 'Hit-man' Burton," said Burton. "A friend that I played with gave me that name after I hit another player just inside the out of bounds line and we both landed 5 feet off the field. It was a good hit."
Not just an athlete, Burton also holds 2 degrees, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and an associate’s degree in law enforcement.
Not long after graduating from the university Burton tried his hand at professional football. While the American league told him he was too small, he did hold a successful carrier in Europe, mainly Germany, with teams like the Frankfurt Knights; the Aschaffenburg Stallions; and the Russelsheim Razorbacks.
It was during his time in Germany that he met his future wife Biljana Burton, then a cheerleader for the Frankfurt Knights, and started a family which would later include their son Jovan Burton and daughter Maya Burton.
It wasn't long after their marriage that a trip to visit Burton’s brother in Hawaii led them to decide to relocate there permanently and begin a life on the beautiful island. Burton’s brother, a Chief Warrant Officer 3, was also later instrumental when the idea of military service would come to mind.
Not one to be satisfied by just getting by, Burton's drive for success has recently awarded him promotable status and he is awaiting his next rank of 'Sergeant' in the U.S. Army. Burton has also recently earned his Expert Field Medical Badge, an award that can only be achieved through a demanding test of personal excellence and an almost unachievable degree of technical professionalism in the medical field.
Now at age 40, his wife has expressed worries about him occasionally considering playing professionally again. While he takes her advice to heart knowing she only has his best intentions in mind, he feels his days with football may not be entirely over.
"I have an intense passion for the game, I've strongly considered coaching," said Burton, who also was an assistant coach for a year at one point.
Burton has enjoyed his past sports carrier and isn't bitter about never having been selected for the American league.
"You know, everything happens for a reason. The way I see it, going to Germany led me to meet my wife and have my kids. I think everything worked out just fine," said Burton.