‘Greatest Generation’ proves worth the wait

Published 11:37 pm Saturday, September 6, 2008

I am pleased to announce, the long awaited ‘Pearl River County’s Greatest Generation’ book has landed, and is now available for purchase, or if you pre-ordered your copy, for pickup at the Item office in Picayune. The cost of the book is $42.75 (with tax).

Today as I sat at my desk flipping through the pages and looking at all the faces of the brave men and women, I thought of how proud I am to live in this country. The book inspired many memories and contemplations for me.

I come from a long line of military folk. I am the daughter of a Vietnam veteran and the granddaughter of a WWII veteran, and my heart swells with pride, and my eyes fill with tears when I attend any type of military event. I can’t even begin to understand what it means to leave your home and your family and to travel halfway across the globe to pick up a weapon… to know you must kill or be killed — I can’t even fathom it!

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But, my feelings are getting the better of me, and I know that my job is simple — introduce this book and let people know, at least in my humble opinion, it was worth the wait.

The book is filled with unforgettable pictures and stories thoughtfully compiled and laid out by the Item’s Barbara Mizell.

I thought it most appropriate to tease you with an excerpt compiled using information submitted by WWII veteran Delos H. Burks before he passed on July 8 of this year. His memory was honored in this book and I only regret that he did not live to see its completion:

“Major General (MS ANG Ret’d) Delos H. Burks was born in Picayune, Miss. on March 5, 1917 to William H. and Alice Burks.

“After graduating from Industrial High School in 1934, General Burks taught school at the high school for several years before enrolling as an Aviation Cadet in September 1941. He got his Navigator’s rating, graduated and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant on 23 May 1942. He then married his high school sweetheart, Melva Rester (May 25, 1942) and was assigned to the 44th Bomb Group, (H), at Barksdale Field in Mississippi, where he was Navigator on the Consolidated B-24 ‘Liberator’ performing anti-submarine patrols both during the day and night in the Gulf of Mexico.

“From August to September 1942 General Burks flew in the B-26 ‘Marauder’ and taught ground school for bombardiers teaching the new Second Lieutenants navigation and giving airborne checkrides.

“October 1943 to January 1945 he was the Assistant Air Base Education and Training Officer and was promoted from First Lieutenant to Captain. In April, 1945 General Burks was reassigned to the Second Emergency Rescue Squadron in Morotai (Phillippine Theater) as Navigator on the Canadian Vickers produced… ‘Catalina.’

“General Burks saw 34 air combat missions, received four decorations, three battle stars, and a Presidential Unit Citation.”

To read more about General Burks, or some of the other valiant men and women of our county, stop by the Item soon and get a copy of this wonderful keepsake book.