BURNS, FREDERICK JOHN Remains returned 1994, identified April 1995 Name: Frederick John Burns Rank/Branch: E3/US Marine Corps Unit: H/2/3 1st Marine Division Date of Birth: 11 June 1949 Home City of Record: Merrick NY Date of Loss: 25 December 1967 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 155700N 1081651E (BT089659) Status (in 1973): Killed in Captivity Category: 1 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground Refno: 0951 Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing) REMARKS: Source: Compiled from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK in 1998. SYNOPSIS: Marine LCpl. Fred Burns was just over 18 and had been in Vietnam a very short time when he was sent out his first mission - a patrol southwest of Da Nang. While on patrol, Burns reportedly dropped a grenade, and dropped back to find it. Fred Burns was captured by the Viet Cong and moved about among the prison camps in South Vietnam. At least one returned POW provides further information on LCpl. Burns. Fred evidently had difficulty adapting to Vietnam service, and felt unliked by his patrol members. He told at least one fellow POW that he had fallen asleep and the rest of the patrol had moved out, leaving him behind purposely. He also told fellow POWs that, a devout Catholic, he had attended Notre Dame on a scholarship. Fred, described as a baby faced young man with light brown hair, neither smoked, drank or swore. Life in camps in South Vietnam under the care of the Viet Cong was difficult. Some camps were in hostile areas, and POWs and guards alike were subject to air strikes. Air strikes and U.S. presence also sometimes prevented food and other supplies from reaching the camps, and unless the camp was secure enough to have grown vegetables or other food crops, POWs and guards alike suffered from lack of food. The American POWs were ill suited for the dietary deprivation they experienced, and unaccustomed to the Vietnamese diet. Consequently, dysentery was common, and freqently led to worse conditions. The Americans were also subject to such jungle diseases as malaria. While some POWs report they received adequate medical attention, others report criminal neglect in this area. Some POWs died from wounds, others literally starved to death. Starvation did not usually occur because of lack of food, but more often because the deteriorated physical and mental condition of the POWs caused them to lose the will to survive. In less than a year, Fred Burns had suffered to this point. Fellow POWs answered his calls in the night, and continually pushed him to eat and tried to rebuild the hope he had lost. Finally, on January 2, 1969, Fred Burns died at age 19. He was buried by fellow POWs near the POW camp in Happy Valley, Quang Nam Province, South Vietnam near other POWs who had died before him. Fred, according to other POWs, never lost his gentle manners. When 591 American prisoners were released, a small number of remains were also sent home for burial, but not those of Fred Burns. For some reason, the Vietnamese have never returned Fred's body or many of those buried at Happy Valley. Fred Burns became a Sergeant while in captivity, but probably never knew it. Tragically, his family must live with the knowledge that he has died, but for over 20 years has remained a Prisoner of War. Even more tragically, the U.S. has conducted "over 250,000" and analyzed "several million documents" related to Americans still missing in Southeast Asia and many government authorities believe there are still hundreds of Americans alive in captivity. The return of those Americans said to be still alive could give Fred Burns the greatest gift we have to offer - that of having died for an honorable country.