Name: Donald Deane Burris, Jr.
Rank/Branch: W2/US Army
Unit: 57th Aviation Company, 52nd Aviation Battalion, 17th Aviation Group
Date of Birth: 26 December 1946 (Philadelphia PA)
Home City of Record: Wayne PA
Date of Loss: 22 December 1969
Country of Loss: Laos (some records say Cambodia)
Loss Coordinates: 152029N 1072941E (YA678975)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 3
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1C
Refno: 1539

Others In Incident: James E. Kennedy (missing); John H. Husicker, Timothy A.
Purser (both rescued)

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 2020.


SYNOPSIS: On December 22, 1969 SP4 James E. Kennedy, door gunner; WO Donald D.
Burris Jr., pilot; WO John H. Hunsicker, aircraft commander; and SP5 Timothy A.
Purser, crew chief; were the crew of a UH1C helicopter (serial #66-00587) on a
combat support mission when it developed mechanical problems and crashed landed.

Official records differ as to the location of the crash. U.S. Army casualty
and Joint Casualty Resolution Center records indicate that the crash was in
Cambodia, yet Defense Department, State Department and other records indicate
that the crash occurred near the border of Attopeu and Saravane Provinces in
Laos, some 30-35 miles north of the closest point in Cambodia. Coordinates
152029N 1972941E are that location. The locality of YA678975 is undoubtedly
Cambodia. It is possible that their combat support mission was in Cambodia, and
the subsequent rescue flight took a circular northwesterly course around the
mountains in northern Cambodia along the Laos border, circled back east towards
Dak To (its destination), and that some records pinpoint the actual location of
loss at the beginning of the flight, while others record it during flight.

Regardless, when the aircraft landed, Burris, Purser and Hunsicker had survived
the crash, but they could not locate the door gunner, James Kennedy. WO
Hunsicker and WO Burris escaped therough the left cargo door uninjured. They
found the crew chief (Purser), who had also scrambled free of the wreckage. He
had a broken arm. A search of the general area around the crashed helicopter
revealed no trace of SP4 Kennedy, and he was not trapped in the wreckage. (As
door gunner, and at a position on the side of the main cargo area of the
aircraft positioned at an open door, Kennedy may have decided to bail out of
the descending aircraft, or may have fallen, - although the gunners were
generally strapped in to the frame of the helicopter so this seems unlikely -
thus becoming separated from the others.)

Minutes after the helicopter crashed, a recovery helicopter arrived in the area
and lowered ropes with McGuire rigs attached through the dense jungle to the
downed men. The survivors were not trained in the proper use of this equipment,
and SP5 Purser fell out of his rig a few feet off the ground. WO Burris and WO
Hunsicker remained in their rigs and were lifted out, and the helicopter
started toward Dak To, with the two rescued men still on the ropes. Five
minutes into the flight, Burris lost his grip on the rope and fell from an
altitude of from 2500 to 3000 feet. The rescue helicopter continued to the
nearest landing area.

A search and rescue team was inserted into the crash site area and recovered
Purser, who was injured. The team searched widely for SP4 Kennedy, but found no
trace of him, and concluded their search on December 25. No search was made for
Burris because of the lack of positive information to pinpoint his loss site
and the hostile threat in the area.

Burris and Kennedy are two of nearly 2500 Americans who did not return from
Southeast Asia at the end of American involvement there, including nearly 600
in Laos. The Pathet Lao publicly stated they held many American prisoners, but
not a single American serviceman held in Laos was ever released. In Cambodia,
there were substantially fewer missing than in Laos or Vietnam. Cambodia has
publicly offered to return the bodies of a number of American servicemen to the
U.S. (in fact, MORE bodies than are officially listed as lost there...), but
the U.S. has no diplomatic relations with Cambodia, and will not acknowledge
the offer officially. The U.S. is unusually silent on the matter of men lost in
Laos and Cambodia.

At the end of the war, military officials expressed their shock and anger that
only 591 Americans were released when hundreds more were expected. Word of
Americans still held captive has continually come in. At the end of 1988, a
U.S. Government report stated that the U.S. has conducted "over 250,000"
interviews and analyzed "millions of documents", yet still maintains no proof
exists that Americans are still held.

Meanwhile the Burris and Kennedy families wonder if they will ever know what
happened to their men - if they are alive - or if they are dead.





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On December 22, 1969, an UH-1C Iroquois (tail number 66-00587) carrying four crew members was on a combat support mission over Cambodia. During the mission, the Iroquois crashed and burned in Ratanakiri Province, in the vicinity of (GC) YA 678 975. The aircraft commander, pilot, and crew chief escaped from the wreck and searched the crash site and surrounding area, but found no trace of the door gunner. Shortly after the crash, a rescue helicopter arrived and lowered ropes with recovery rigs for the three survivors. While being hoisted to the helicopter, the crew chief and the pilot fell from the rigs back to the ground and could not be recovered at the time. The rescue helicopter departed with aircraft commander it had successfully retrieved, and another rescue team was later sent to the crash site to search for the crew chief and pilot who fell from their rigs and the door gunner who remained missing after the crash. They succeeded in recovering the crew chief, but could not locate the pilot or door gunner. Further search efforts were not possible due to the enemy presence in the area. The pilot and door gunner from the Iroquois' crew remain unaccounted for.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Donald Deane Burris Jr. entered the U.S. Army from Pennsylvania and was a member of the 57th Aviation Company, 52nd Aviation Battalion, 17th Aviation Group. He was the pilot of this Iroquois and survived the crash, but was one of the men who fell while being hoisted to the rescue helicopter. The follow-on search team was unable to locate him and he remains unaccounted for. Today, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Burris is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Non-recoverable.

If you are a family member of this serviceman, DPAA can provide you with additional information and analysis of your case. Please contact your casualty office representative.

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