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Romus Valton "R.V" Burgin
Burgin.jpg
Burgin in Peleliu

Actor

Martin McCann

Rank

Corporal later Sergeant

Battles

Battle of Peleliu, Battle of Okinawa

Status

Deceased as of April 6, 2019

Cpl./Sgt. Romus Valton "R.V" Burgin was a mortarman non-commissioned officer serving in Company K, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines during World War II. Throughout the miniseries, Burgin was in a leadership position within the mortar section of Company K and thus Sledge's superior.

History[]

Burgin was born in Jewett, Texas, on August 13, 1922. Burgin enlisted in the Marine Corps in November 13, 1942.

Austin[]

When PFC R.V. Burgin arrived in Austin in late March 1939 the bustling city of about a million people was one of the most beautiful places he'd ever seen. Like most other new replacements, Burgin was only about three months out of boot camp in San Diego, and he still had plenty of work to do to become a full-fledged member of the Old Breed. But that didn't keep him from exploring the wonders of Melbourne to the fullest — and finding a steady girlfriend there.

"The people of Melbourne treated us like royalty," Burgin recalled. "They knew the American victory at Guadalcanal had eliminated the threat of a Japanese invasion, and they called the guys who fought there 'the Saviors of Australia.' Basically, the Aussies and Americans just liked each other, anyway."

In the course of his wanderings, Burgin met a girl named Florence Riseley at an ice cream parlor. He asked her out on a double date with Jimmy Burke and Florence's friend, Doris, and almost immediately, he sensed something special about her. After that, he spent less and less time with Jimmy in the pubs, where women usually weren't allowed, and more and more time on long walks with Florence.

The idyll lasted for about four months. Then, suddenly, it was ending. In the late spring of 1943 word came that the division would soon ship out, first to New Guinea, some 2,800 miles due north of Melbourne, then to someplace else. As yet, nobody knew where the "someplace else" was.

By this time, Burgin and Florence were unofficially engaged, and saying goodbye to her was the most difficult task he'd ever faced. Harder than leaving home. Harder than boot camp. Harder than anything.

Pavuvu[]

Burgin is first seen in the series greeting Eugene Sledge, Bill Leyden, and Robert Oswalt along with fellow Marines, Snafu and De L'Eau. While Snafu teases the replacements and De L'Eau shows them around, Burgin just stays in the cabin.

Peleliu[]

At the time the marines landed in Peleliu, Burgin was the Mortar Squad Leader and not yet Sledge's Section Sergeant as the role belonged to GySgt. Haney at the time. So Burgin did not have a very large role during this time, and he usually just follows the rest of the squad through the beach and airfield. He relays orders from Lt. "Hillbilly" Jones to the Mortar Squad.

Bloody Nose Ridge[]

Burgin gets a slightly bigger role in the Bloody Nose Ridge. While the unit fights through the hills, Sledge asks Burgin why the Japanese won't surrender. Burgin merely replies, "Cause they're Japs." After much brutal fighting where the unit loses one of their own, Burgin brings some bad news: their Captain, Andrew Haldane, is dead, having been shot through the head by a sniper. Burgin leaves to allow stretcher bearers to carry Haldane through a column of sorrowful marines. Burgin is later seen with the rest of the unit in a boat, and then presumably in Pavuvu going to swim naked off the shore.

Prior to Okinawa[]

Burgin, Sledge, and Snafu later hear some more bad news from De L'Eau: he has been transferred to intelligence, so De L'Eau would not be joining the other marines in Okinawa

Okinawa[]

After Haney was relieved, Burgin gets promoted and becomes the Mortar Section Sergeant of Sledge's squad, under a new, and less likable Lieutenant in Okinawa. Burgin does what he can to keep Sledge and Snafu out of trouble, as well as two replacements, Pvt. Hamm, and Pvt. Tony Peck. Eventually, Hamm is killed and Peck is incarcerated. Burgin is then seen along with Sledge and Snafu in a truck leaving a section of the island. Some time later, Burgin, Sledge, and Snafu celebrate Victory in Japan Day outside of the crowd, and then contemplate their return home.

Return Home[]

After some service in China, Burgin, Sledge, and Snafu finally return home. Burgin goes first, looking for Florence before realizing with Snafu's help that Florence couldn't get to the station this fast. Burgin then leaves the train.

Later Life[]

Burgin eventually married Florence in January 1947, and they lived in Lancaster, Texas raising four daughters. Florence died on 25 August, 2011. Burgin died 6 April,2019 at the age of 96. R.V. and Florence are buried at Rawlins Cemetery in Lancaster. Burgin wrote a book called Islands of the Damned in 2010 with Bill Marvel, and he is also one of the Marines who gave interviews for the HBO series, The Pacific.

R. V. Burgin's Islands of the Damned

Personality and traits[]

At the time, thousands of young men were volunteering each month for service in the Corps, and in many ways Burgin typified the kind of recruit the Marines were looking for.

He was strong and lean, toughened by eighteen years of life on a hardscrabble southeast Texas farm, where his family grew almost everything it ate, and Burgin and his six brothers and sisters helped wrest a living from the earth. He'd excelled in competitive sports in high school, learned to shoot rabbits and squirrels by the time he was ten years old, and was endowed with enough confidence to think he could hold his own with any man.

Burgin had always been tough-minded, physically strong, and thoroughly at home with any type of work. As a kid, he'd picked cotton for thirty cents per 100 pounds and gathered wild berries to sell in town for a dime a gallon to pay for his school clothes. As a 140-pound defensive end and blocking back on his high school football team, he'd earned enough respect from his teammates to be elected captain his senior year.

After being assigned to a mortar squad, Burgin had learned to set up his 60-millimeter gun faster than anybody else in the section — a feat that got him promoted to PFC the very next week. He was the kind of guy who followed his own instincts but was also a good team player. He had a low tolerance for bullshit, and he made no secret of it. He also exuded Texas bravado, and he didn't care who knew that, either.

Trivia[]

  • Burgin in Real Life

    Burgin passed away on April 6, 2019 (aged 96) in Lancaster, Texas, the last of the Marines portrayed in the mini-series.
  • The "real" R.V. Burgin said that actor the portrayal of his actor, Martin McCann, was "excellent,...although they could've streched him out a bit" (As Burgin was over 6 feet tall and McCann is only 5'7".)
  • His actor, Martin McCann, is actually Irish.
  • Burgin's younger brother Joseph Delton(J.D.) (March 24, 1926 – February 17, 1945) joined the United States Army, after changing his year of birth from 1926 to 1925, and was sent to Europe, as a member of Company "C", 274th Infantry Regiment, 70th Infantry Division ("Trailblazers"). J.D. died in Alsace-Lorraine on February 17, 1945, when he was killed by artillery fire near the river Saar and the town of Forbach, as they moved east toward Saarbrücken on the other side of the river, as part of a push against the Siegfried Line.

See Also[]

Eugene Sledge

Merriel Shelton

Jay De L'Eau

Bill Leyden

Andrew Haldane

1st Marine Division

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