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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Lieutenant Walter B. Burwell, MC, USNR

Silver Star Citation

LT Walter B. Burwell, MC, USNR, was a medical officer on USS Suwannee (CVE-27) when it was struck by two Japanese suicide (Kamikaze) aircraft on 25 and 26 October 1944

"For distinguishing himself by gallantry and intrepidity in his profession as a medical officer on his ship the USS Suwannee from 25 to 28 October 1944. While operating off Japanese-held Leyte Island, Philippine Islands, against nearby Japanese surface task forces his ship was struck three times by Japanese aircraft attacks on 25 and 26 October 1944. These three attacks not only so damaged the ship it was unable further to carry on air operations but also caused extremely heavy casualties. While he was tending the wounded of 25 October in the forward battle dressing station, aft and below the catapult machinery spaces the attack of 26 October extinguished the lights, shattered the bulkheads and caused water from a ruptured main to pour in on the wounded. He immediately evacuated them, moving them to the after-hatch of the compartment, going into the next compartment alone, and after dogging down the door, exploring it to make sure it was safe for the wounded. He repeated this process through several compartments leading his party of wounded to safety. He later made his way through smoke and flame to the forecastle isolated from the rest of the ship by the flight deck fire of great intensity to tend the wounded there. For four days he labored over the dying and wounded without sleep, with skill and devotion and with a calming demeanor. His use of the talents of his profession, his personal courage and devotion are in keeping with the highest traditions of the Navy of the United States."



14 June 2000