Lieutenant Colonel John Burke passed away peacefully in his wife Kathleen’s arms on August 29th after a 9 year battle with multiple myeloma. He is survived by his sister, Karen, brother, Dan, and Kathleen, his loving wife of 43 year.
The longest flying C-5 pilot in the world with the USAF (years active: 1976-2002, 326 and 709th Airlift Squadron), John was awarded numerous medals and accommodations. He wasn’t one to brag, but he was most proud of his Congressional Record.
If you were a friend, you were a friend forever. John was admired and respected by his fellow pilots and loved by his family and friends. He was funny, witty, and could talk your ear off. If you were gifted just a 1 hour phone conversation, consider yourself one of the lucky ones.
His fellow pilots can relate as he’d often turn their 8 hour work days into hours-long bs sessions, extra long lunches, going to the coffee shop, and midday workouts. He wouldn’t miss celebrating Edmund Fitzgerald Day and playing mustang shuffle board. He was a respected mentor to his younger pilots and a great officer.
Among his family, and nieces and nephews especially, he was known as “The Colonel.” Visiting the Colonel for a weekend meant knowing that you’d be on military time and the expectations for order and good behavior were high. This of course was balanced out with spending time in the backyard shooting bb guns into soda cans, playing in the pool, getting to drive his classic cars like the big Chevelle, and going to the Dover Air Force base to see the planes and meet pilots, and learn everything there was to know about the military - The Colonel was incredibly smart and well read, looked up to by those who knew him.
He had a list of hobbies longer than you could imagine. Staying fit was top of the list. An avid runner and cyclist, John never stopped riding his bike - even as his illness got worse he traded in his bike for a trike and put in the miles every day he could.
He loved the Yankees, Cleveland Browns, and of course Lehigh Football. If he wasn’t working out or watching sports, you could find him in the garage tinkering with a car motor, walking the aisles of Lowes for his home improvement projects - some of which were successful, some not so much - or laughing at old Seinfeld episodes, Two and Half Men, and watching literally anything with Clint Eastwood. His nickname was Angel Eyes after his love of Clint Eastwood films.
He was a wonderful son, brother, and husband. He gave his wife Kathleen the most wonderful life filled with treasured memories and incredible adventures.
Your mission is complete.
Hagar 06 cleared to land on runway heaven.
Blue skies and tail winds.To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John A Burke, please visit our flower store.