William Burke (F3) passed away 19 August 1993 at the NTC. It was the last
mission of the rotation and everyone was very tired, but Bill was in good
spirits as always. Bill had a very difficult mission to perform in zero
percent illumination. To complicate matters, the platoon was having problems
maintaining satellite tracking with their GPS's because of the limited
satellite window. He was working for the Brigade commander at the time,
not his own Battalion. After a security halt and map check, Bill knew he
was close to the entry point of the wadi. At this point, Bill decided to
assume the lead. Bill was approximately 300 meters closer than he thought.
His track, along with two others, never saw the cliff. Bill was killed
instantly. He died in the Colorado Wadi when the Bradley of his Scout platoon
fell into the wadi from the ridge. He, his Platoon Sergeant, and a wing
man went off a ridge into the wadi during the night reconnaissance mission.
Red star clusters fired in the distance. Something terribly wrong had happened
because no one could raise him on the radio. Bill did everything correctly,
the conditions were terrible. Zero percent illumination doesn't describe
how dark it really was, given all other conditions, fatigue included. Bill
was a good friend and did not deserve this accident to happen to him. However,
we carry on because ours is a dangerous lifestyle. It was a sad event for
his whole unit, because he was very popular with his men and the rest of
the Battalion. He was well respected and the loss made an impact upon everyone.
It was a tragic loss. The Army lost a great leader that night and his Classmates
lost a true friend.