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Elmer J Burr

Elmer J Burr

186 Burr.jpg

Elmer was born on the 11th of May, 1908 in Neenah, Wisconsin. He joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard at the age of 20 and after the 32nd Infantry Division was federalized in 1940, Elmer participated in training exercises until late 1941. Back then, there was an age cap and when Elmer turned 28, he was discharged for reaching that limit. Not long after that, however, was the attack on Pearl Harbor and Elmer re-enlisted and rejoined the 32nd Infantry Division.

His unit was sent to Australia for training from which Elmer and Company I of the 127th Infantry Regiment were sent to New Guinea. At this point, he was the first sergeant of the company and it was his actions in the village of Buna that would earn him the Medal of Honor. The citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty. During an attack near Buna, New Guinea, on 24 December 1942, 1st Sgt. Burr saw an enemy grenade strike near his company commander. Instantly and with heroic self-sacrifice he threw himself upon it, smothering the explosion with his body. 1st Sgt. Burr thus gave his life in saving that of his commander.

Elmer suffered wounds to his abdomen and was brought to a field hospital but due to the severity of the wounds, he died the next day at the age of 34. Ten months later, on the 11th of October, 1943, Elmer was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Elmer John Burr is buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery in his home town of Neenah, Wisconsin; Veteran's Section, Lot 163.

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