Family, friends and Marines say goodbye to their "Master Guns"
By Cpl. Luis R. Agostini
| | May 08, 2007
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, KANEOHE BAY --
Family, friends and fellow warriors gathered at the MCB Hawaii Chapel Oct. 31 to celebrate the life of Master Gunnery Sgt. Howard D. Burleson, who passed away Oct. 23 at the age of 44.Burleson served as the legal chief for the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific Staff Judge Advocate, serving two tours with U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.Burleson's presence was felt throughout the chapel. A display by the chapel entrance took mourners a photographic journey of the storied career and family life of the late "Master Guns." On display by his casket were photos of Burleson during his drill field years and Bahrain tours, a pair of combat boots, a Kevlar helmet and a folded American flag.Burleson's sons, Larry and Ben, said prayers in honor and remembrance of their father, and his daughter, Angela McCray, played a videotape of a local school performance Oct. 30 in honor of service men and women who have defended the country. She planned on showing her father the video."He was a great dad, and that's all we knew him as," said McCray. "It was enough for us. It wasn't till now that we realize that he was so much more than that," said McCray.Several of Burleson's co-workers at MarForPac shared candid remarks, lending insight on their relationships, professional and personal, with Burleson.Lieutenant Cmdr. Chaplain Loften C. Thornton, Headquarters and Service Bn., MarForPac, with whom Burleson served with in Bahrain, preceded the meditation with descriptions of Burleson as "frank, no-nonsense, old-school and a man's man."Colonel William S. Febuary, commanding officer of Headquarters and Service Battalion, MarForPac, spoke on behalf of Burleson's final command."This good shepherd (Burleson) increased the quality of all he touched by his example, guidance and mentorship," said Febuary. "He will never be forgotten."One of Burlesons' noncommissioned officers, Sgt. Donnie Plumley, legal services specialist, revealed his admiration for his late mentor."I never quite met anyone like him. He had a profound impact on me as an enlisted Marine. He was patient, a listener and a friend," said Plumley. "I will always treasure his advice."Burleson's officer-in-charge, Lt. Col. Robert Pinder, staff judge advocate, MarForPac, shared his thoughts on Burleson's reputation as a reliable coworker."He was a fixer. The toughest problems in the office, I would ask him to fix them and he would," said Pinder.The services concluded outside the chapel, where family, friends and Marines gathered for the "Marine Prayer", "Taps" and their final farewell to Master Gunnery Sgt. Howard Burleson.