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R.V. Burgin, the last of our Marines, dies at 96

We are saddened to note the passing of R. V. (Burgie) Burgin who died at his Lancaster, Texas home on April 6, 2019 at the age of 96.

He was the last survivor of the Company K-3-5 veterans of the 1st Marine Division we interviewed on film for the production of our film on Peleliu.

Sergeant Burgin was a gracious and gentlemanly fellow who told his story well.  Like the man himself, he told the tale of the men of Company K-3-5 of the 1st Marine Division in a direct, honest, and forthright manner.  He pulled no punches when describing the horrific battle for the island of Peleliu.  

His book, Islands of the Damned: A Marine at War in the Pacific, published in 2010, was very well received and compliments the excellent book, With the Old Breed at Peleliu to Okinawa (1981), by his fellow Company K-3-5 Marine, E. B. Sledge.  Both Sledge and Burgin were featured characters in the HBO production The Pacific.  Jay de l’Eau and Bill Leyden from our film appeared as characters, too.

With Burgie’s death, we are reminded of the remarkable opportunity we had to capture the stories of thirty special Americans on film, to spend time with them during the interviews, and to share the truly special camaraderie these men had for one another over dinner and drinks in the evenings after shooting was the experience of a lifetime.

From the completed films:

Peleliu 1944 Horror in the Pacific featuring members of Company K-3-5 of the 1st Marine Division: E. B. Sledge, R. V. Burgin, Jay P. de l’Eau, William J. Leyden, Roy R. Kelly

Pistol Packin’ Mama the Missions of a B-17 featuring crew members of the B-17 Betty Boop Pistol Packin’ Mama of the 390th Bomb Group: James R. Geary, Richard H. Perry, Nathaniel “Gus” Mencow, Shirl J. Hoffman, Clifford Puckett

17th Airborne The Bulge to the Rhine featuring the personal accounts of five members of the 381st Glider Field Artillery Battalion: Robert A. Harrsch, Walter C. Byrd, John “Jack” Fischer, Carl Arend, Stanley J. Polniak.  Their stories dovetail with many of the stories depicted in HBO’s production of Band of Brothers.

Fighting 17 the Jolly Rogers featuring members of famed Navy squadron VF-17: Tom Blackburn, Roger R. Hedrick, William L. Landreth, Dan Cunningham, Robert H. “Windy” HIll

And from interviews shot for two films that went uncompleted:

From the U.S.S. San Francisco at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal: John Bennett, Donal George Brown, HE (Bill) Dresser, Edmund E. McGuire, Donald E. Jenkins

From a proposed film on the Bataan Death March: Philip D. Toland, Brownell H. Cole, Richard M. Gordon, Louis B. Read, Leon O. Beck

Thank you all for your service.

Jeff Hohman and Bill Semans


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