35th Infantry (Cacti) Regiment Association

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  PFC Dean Harry Burns    In memory of our fallen brother

"We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; for he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother"

Alpha Company
2nd Battalion
35th Infantry Regiment

Vietnam War

"Not For Fame or Reward
Not For Place or For Rank
But In Simple Obedience To
Duty as They Understood It"

National Defense Service Medal Vietnam Service Medal Vietnam Campaign Medal Vietnam Campaign Medal

The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, PFC Dean Harry Burns, who died in the service of his country on March 31st, 1968 in Kontum Province, Vietnam. The cause of death was listed as Small Arms/AW. At the time of his death Dean was 20 years of age. He was from Sonoma, California. Dean is honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Panel 47E, Line 20.

The decorations earned by PFC Dean Harry Burns include: the Combat Medical Badge, the Silver Star, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation.

Dean is buried in the Valley Cemetery, Sonoma,CA
(Jim Lavaty, who was with the Yards assisting A,2/35th, has this to say about medic Burns. Jim's email is: jdlavaty@hotmail.com )

Dick, I unfortunately did not personally know any of the fine soldiers of the 4th div. I fought side by side with those 5 or 6 days on that ridgeline above my SF camp Polei Kleng. I was assigned with my CO Cpt. Dick Marshall along with a platoon of CIDG, to act as point element for Co. A 4th Div on 3/31/68. We were inserted by chopper and after moving only 100 meters we were ambushed and had many dead and wounded montagnards. It was medic, Pfc Burns, who left his less vulnerable position, moved forward and attended one of the wounded montagnards, all under heavy small arms fire. This all took place a few feet in front of me. Cpt Marshall picked up the wounded man and carried him to safety as Burns crawled over, next to me. After, what seemed forever,as all hell was breaking loose, I adjusted artillery and was ordered to pull back out of the line of fire. I turned to Burns to tell him to move back and found him KIA. I pulled back and after napalm and artillery strikes I helped carry his body to the chopper. I never knew his name until researching your website a couple of days ago. He has been in my thoughts all these years after doing his job, which cost him the ultimate sacrifice. I just wanted any interested family or friends to know of his bravery that day. Co. D replaced Co. A the next day and Cpt. Marshall and I were replaced by two other Special Forces personnel from Polei Kleng 5 days later.I have spent many days trying to find Burns identity. I now have some closure and wanted to help someone else. Respectfully, Jim Lavaty PS Please add any details from my email you would like, Burns deserves it.
(His Silver Star Citation)

Award Of The Sliver Star Medal

For gallantry in action while engaged in military operations against a hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam. Private First Class Burns distinguished himself which serving as a Medical Aidman attached to A, 2/35th Infantry. On 30 March 1968, Private First Class Burns was participating in a vital search and destroy operation a few miles northwest of Polei Kleng. As the unit cautiously moved through the mountainous jungle terrain, it discovered a well-concealed enemy bunker complex and was immediately immobilized by heavy automatic weapons and mortar fire before evasive action could be taken. Several men in the lead element were wounded in the initial burst of enemy fire. Seeing the need for his medical assistance, Private First Class Burns moved through the intense hostile fire to reach each injured man's position. After administering aid, he moved each man to a safer position. He continued his mission of mercy until all were evacuated. On the afternoon of March 31 1968, his unit was again subjected to heavy enemy automatic weapons and mortar fire. The forward element received most of the initial burst of hostile fire. Private First Class Burns ran a distance of seventy-five meters to reach the wounded, keeping just ahead of a steady stream of well-directed hostile automatic weapons fire. Reaching the injured, he carried them, one by one, to a safer position through a barrage of fire. As he was returning the last man to the covered position, he was mortally wounded by the enemy fire. His exceptional gallantry in rendering aid to his injured comrades clearly saved their lives and greatly inspired the members of his unit in successfully defeating the enemy assault. Private First Class Burns' exceptional gallantry, persevering concern for the welfare of his comrades and exemplary devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.