461st plaque

461st Bombardment Group (H)

Brigadier General William Burke

Retired Oct. 1, 1966.   Died Jan. 4, 2003.

General William Burke is director of plans, Headquarters, Pacific Air Forces, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.

He was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., in 1917. He graduated from the University of Alabama in 1940 and was commissioned in 1941 through the Reserve Officers Training Corps. He was transferred to the Army Air Force and entered active duty June 29, 1941. After graduation from Craig Field, Ala., Aug. 4. 1942, be was assigned to various B-17 and B-24 flying units in Florida, Idaho, Utah and California until December 1943. He commanded the 766th Bomb squadron and was operations officer of the 461st Bomb Group in Africa and Italy (B-24s) and flew combat missions until July 27, 1944, when he was shot down while leading an attack in the vicinity of Linz, Austria. He was a prisoner of war at Barth, Germany, until May 1945, when he was flown out of Germany by the Eighth Air Force.

General Burke organized and commanded the San Francisco Search & Rescue Center from August 1945 to March 1946. He was assigned to Strategic Plans, Headquarters, Army Air Force until October 1947; then transferred to Operations Plans in the War Department, where he remained until July 1949. From 1949 until 1950 be served on the Military Liaison Committee to the Atomic Energy Commission and participated in planning nuclear weapons tests.

Reassigned to Europe in 1951 and, as part of the U.S. planning team, General Burke assisted in planning and organizing Southern Command structure for NATO. He served as assistant chief, War Plans on the staff of the Allied Air Forces, Southern Europe from August 1951 until December 1953.

In January 1954 General Burke was transferred to the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, Strategic Air Command, as Deputy Commander. In 1955 he was designated commander, 70th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, a new SAC wing which he organized and commanded until May 1958.

Reassigned to Headquarters, U.S. Air Force, General Burke served in several command and staff positions, including director, Combined Plans Division, Headquarters U.S. Air Force; and director, Plans Division, Office of International Security Affairs, Office of the Secretary of Defense, until September 1963, when he was transferred to Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. On Oct. 1, 1963, be assumed the duties of assistant chief of staff, plans, Headquarters, Pacific Air Forces. On Nov. 1, 1964, this position was re-designated director of plans.