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First Name: Elmer

Last Name: Burr

Birthplace: Neenah, WI, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Neenah, WI
Middle Name: J.

Date of Birth: 11 May 1908

Date of Death: 25 December 1942

Rank: First Sergeant

Years Served: 1928 - 1942
Elmer J. Burr

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Elmer J. Burr
First Sergeant, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

First Sergeant Elmer J. Burr (11 May 1908 - 25 December 1942) was a U.S. Army soldier who was posthumously awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during World War II.

Elmer J. Burr was born on 11 May 1908 in Neenah, WI. He joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard in about 1928 and served with the 32nd Infantry Division. After the 32nd Division was federalized in 1940, he participated in training exercises with his unit until late 1941, when he was discharged for being over the 28-year age limit. However, the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, led to Burr re-enlisting from Menasha, WI, and rejoining the 32nd Division.

After a few months of training in Australia, he was sent to New Guinea. On 24 December 1942, he was serving as a First Sergeant in Company I of the 127th Infantry Regiment at the village of Buna. On that day, he covered the blast of an enemy-thrown hand grenade with his body, sacrificing himself to protect those around him. He suffered severe wounds to his abdomen and died in a field hospital the next day. For this action, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: First Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company I, 127th Infantry, 32nd Infantry Division.

Place and date: Buna, New Guinea, 24 December 1942.

Citation: 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.

Death and Burial

On 25 December 1942, First Sergeant Elmer J. Burr died of his wounds received in battle the previous day. Burr, aged 34 at his death, is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in his hometown of Neenah, WI.

Honoree ID: 1311   Created by: MHOH




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