Romus Valton "R.V" Burgin
Burgin in Peleliu


Martin McCann


Corporal, Sergeant


Battle of Cape Gloucester

Battle of Peleliu

Battle of Okinawa



Cpl./Sgt. Romus Valton "R.V" Burgin was a Non-Commisioned Officer who served in the First Marine Division as Eugene Sledge's Section Sergeant.


Burgin was born in Jewett, Texas on August 13, 1922. He left home in November 1942 to enlist in the Marine Corps, his main concern was volunteering before an impending date with the draft. He was sworn in a couple of days later in San Antonio, not knowing that he was about to become an apprentice in a mystical military fraternity dating to Revolutionary War times. Among the inner circle of veterans who had paid their dues in blood, sweat, and misery in its ranks, it was known simply as the "Old Breed." Before any newcomer could claim full membership, he had to prove himself worthy of its standards and traditions.


When PFC R.V. Burgin arrived in Melbourne in late March 1943, 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.


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.


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 RidgeEdit

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 OkinawaEdit

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


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 HomeEdit

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 LifeEdit

Burgin eventually married Florence in 1947, and they are still living in Jewett with four daughters. 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.
Islands of the damned

R. V. Burgin's Islands of the Damned

Personality and traitsEdit

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.


  • Burgin-Real Life-Younger

    Burgin in Real Life

    Burgin is the only Marine featured in the series still alive.
  • 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" (In terms of character development.)
  • His actor, Martin McCann, is actually Irish.

See AlsoEdit

Eugene Sledge

Merriel Shelton

Jay De L'Eau

Bill Leyden

Andrew Haldane

1st Marine Division