Realizing his platoon’s attack was losing momentum, a young Marine assumed the role of squad leader after his superior was rendered unconscious. Displaying heroic leadership and tactical proficiency, he led a team to a rooftop and neutralized several enemy sniper positions, enabling the platoon to regain critical momentum.
Despite withering enemy fire and with total disregard for his personal safety, the Marine employed his M-203 grenade launcher. While leading the squad in an assault against a large group of insurgents occupying a building, he was seriously wounded and evacuated.
Ignoring his wounds, he volunteered to return to the platoon three days later.
During an ensuing firefight, he encountered three severely wounded Marines inside a house where numerous insurgents were barricaded behind fortified positions. Again disregarding his own safety, and under heavy enemy fire, he charged into the house to recover his fellow Marines. While valiantly returning fire and calling for the wounded Marines, he received enemy fire and fell mortally wounded.
The above citation reads like a script from an action movie, but it is the real life account of Bel Air-native Cpl. Dale Burger Jr.’s actions on November 14, 2004 while serving in Iraq.
More than a decade later, the local community continues to honor Burger’s sacrifice, most recently during a July 1 ceremony dedicating the MD Rt. 222 (Perryville Road) bridge spanning over I-95 in Cecil County.
Former members of Burger’s unit along with representatives of the Maryland State Government and the American Legion joined Maj. Gen. Kirk Vollmecke, Program Executive Officer Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors, in honoring Burger, a Port Deposit resident at the time of his death.
“Every traveler that passes over this bridge will see this sign, edged with the name Cpl. Dale Burger Jr,” said Vollmecke, the ceremony’s keynote speaker.
“His memory and story are archived in our nation’s records of combat, and now for his family, friends, and neighbors, his memory now stands for all travelers to pause and remember.”
In advance of Independence Day, Vollmecke said Burger’s heroism was in concert with a rich tradition of sacrifice by Marylanders dating back to the Maryland 400, whose sacrifice was instrumental in assisting George Washington escape during the Battle of Long Island and continue the Revolutionary War.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the bridge dedication was spearheaded by the American Legion Susquehanna Post 135.
Burger was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart. He is buried near his father in Arlington National Cemetery.
Prior to the relocation of the U.S. Army Ordnance Center and School, a building at APG was dedicated to Burger in 2006. That building dedication moved to Fort Lee, Virginia with the OC&S.