CROTON-ON-HUDSON, NY – Thomas K. Burniston was still a teenager when he volunteered for the U.S. Army, but a scant four months after his arrival in Vietnam, he became a hero. Recently, Mr. Burniston was recognized for his bravery and his sterling record of service at a ceremony hosted by Senator Terrence Murphy at the Croton-on-Hudson Free Library. The ceremony also marked the temporary installation of Senator Murphy’s Veterans’ Moving Hall of Fame Wall, a display of biographies that honors servicemen and women from all wars.
“It takes a special kind of person to volunteer to be on the front line at such a young age the way Tom did,” Senator Murphy noted. “We are proud to honor Tom and other men like him through our Veterans’ Hall of Fame Moving Wall. These courageous servicemen and women put the safety of others ahead of their own. They did their jobs without complaint and secured our freedoms. We owe them all a great deal of thanks.”
Mr. Burniston volunteered for the U.S. Army at the age of 18 in June 1965, arriving in Vietnam that November as an Infantry Private with the 101st Airborne Division. Within four months, he was involved in three separate engagements during the fierce fighting near Tuy Hoa. He was severely wounded in one of the engagements and received the Purple Heart. During his tour of duty, he was also given the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Heroism, and the Army commendation Medal for Heroism. Mr. Burniston was later commissioned as an infantry and military intelligence officer.
Mr. Burniston returned to South Vietnam in July 1968 and served for a year with the Fifth Special Forces in and around both Danang and the Laotian border, where he participated in the Battle of Thuong Duc. He achieved the rank of Captain in July 1973 and left the Army. Among the other medals he received during his Army career were the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, Combat Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge and the Vietnam Service Medal.