It is with deepest sadness that we announce the passing of Senior Chief Petty Officer (USN Ret.) Terry Bruce Burkett, beloved husband, father, uncle, Vietnam Veteran, TCVVM Executive Committee Member and our friend on Saturday, May 9, 2015.
A U.S. Navy Vietnam veteran of Abilene, Terry served on the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument Executive Committee for 8 years, including chairing the Veterans Outreach Committee. Terry drove his pickup truck around the state of Texas, traveling hundreds and hundreds of miles to numerous veteran organizations to build support for and awareness of the Monument. He played a critical role in monitoring the casting and production phases of the monument to ensure the Deep in the Heart Art Foundry in Bastrop, Texas, stayed on schedule during the critical design, sculpturing, and development of the monument. Terry also facilitated the critical relationship between the foundry and the State Preservation Board, making sure the Committee was always in compliance, staying on top of the incredible number of details that came with constructing a monument on the state Capitol grounds. He was instrumental in the creation of this website and deeply passionate in his belief in the importance of the “Living Monument” that shares the stories of his fellow veterans. On Dedication Day for the Monument, March 30, 2014, Terry addressed the crowd of 4500 attendees, “My name is Terry B. Burkett and I am a proud Texas Vietnam Veteran,” before proudly unveiling this monument with the words all Texas Vietnam veterans had waited so long to hear – “Welcome Home.”
No one was more passionate about the monument and its importance in honoring Texas Vietnam veterans than Terry. During our final visit with him, he urged us to carry on with our work to build the TCVVM educational project to ensure that the future never forgets the service of his fellow Texans in Vietnam, and the sacrifice made by the 3,417 who gave their lives. All of us who served with him as part of the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument Committee are deeply saddened by the loss of our friend, and deeply grateful for his dedication to the project. He pushed us, he needled us, and he inspired us. As it was in Vietnam, he was our indispensable crew chief as we “flew the mission.”
You are invited to join his family and us as we honor Terry at a Memorial Service to be held at the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument on the northeast side of the Capitol grounds in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, May 16. Family and friends are invited to gather at 6:30 pm, with a short service to be held at 7:00 pm.
Terry was born April 26, 1946, in Le Mars, Iowa, the last of eight children born to Edith Carolyn Gabel and Lowell Bruce Burkett. He was preceded in death by his parents and 5 siblings. He is survived by his wife, Karen Ayn Burkett; four children; Christopher Leigh Burkett, Kelly Ann Fanelli, Jeffrey Allen Burkett, and Lowell David Burkett; 4 step-children, Franklin James Barnard, Charles Michael Barnard, Douglas Gene Moore, and Samantha Kay Graham; 20 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren; his sister, Marge Barnhill of Abilene, Texas, and Linda Smith of Athens, Georgia, as well as many nieces and nephews.
After graduation in 1964 from Cooper High School in Abilene Texas, Terry enlisted in the US Navy and served his country proudly for 22 and a half years. As a US Naval Air crewman, Terry was deployed to Vietnam in 1966, 1969, and 1970, flying Yankee Station and Operation Market Time patrols with squadrons VP-9 and VP-17. He logged over 6000 flight hours in P-3 Orion Aircraft as a P-3 Air Crew Chief, including air operations searching for NVA troop movements and Antisubmarine Warfare. He was awarded the Air Medals with Strike Flight Number “1.” Additionally, he received two Navy Achievement Awards Medals, two Navy Unit Commendations, two Navy Meritorious Unit Commendations, the battle “E” Award, and five Good Conduct Awards, among others.
Terry is a life member of VFW Post 3377 in Manchaca, Texas, serving as Commander and Quartermaster in past years. He is also a member of the Texas Association of Vietnam Veterans Austin Chapter and Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 915 in Austin, Texas.
A graveside service with US Navy Honors will be held at 1:00 PM on Wednesday, May 13, 2015, at the Texas State Veterans Cemetery, 7457 West Lake Road, Abilene, Texas under the direction of Harrell Funeral Home, 4435 Frontier Trail, Austin, Texas.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made in Terry’s name to the Austin Dog Alliance, Hounds for Heroes: http://austindogalliance.org/ptsd-service-dogs/. You are invited to leave a tribute on the TCVVM Facebook page or Terry’s obituary tribute page.