EUGENE F. BURKETT, LT, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Eugene Burkett '20

Date of birth: March 3, 1896

Date of death: January 7, 1930

Age: 33

Lucky Bag

From the 1920 Lucky Bag:


Loss

"Clark" is Admiral Joseph J. Clark, USNA '18

Eugene was lost on January 7, 1930 when his aircraft crashed during a training flight. He and Ensign John D. Clark were flying an amphibious aircraft that fell 1500 feet into the San Diego bay, according to newspaper accounts at the time.

Eugene was survived by his wife, Martha, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He was also survived by his father, the Reverend J.C. Burkett, and two brothers, J.C. Burkett, Jr. and O.S. Burkett, and three sisters, Mrs. Bernice Eranson, Mrs. L.B. Howard, and Mrs. J. Cran Hardin.

From Abilene Reporter-News from Abilene, Texas, on November 2, 1941 (shortly after the sinking of USS Reuben James):

The United States destroyer Reuben James, sent to the Atlantic ocean floor Friday by a torpedo presumed to have been fired by a nazi submarine, had an Abilene boy as one of its officers on its first long cruise, in 1921, it was recalled here Saturday.

He was Ensign Eugene F. Burkett, son of the late Rev. and Mrs. J. C. Burkett, an officer on its maiden cruise to England, Spain and the Mediterranean.

A Midland high school graduate, Burkett was a member of the class of 1916 at Hardin-Simmons university, and was appointed to the U. S. Naval academy by Congressman W. R. Smith, Colorado City. He was a member of the 1920 class at the naval academy, Annapolis.

After a year aboard the Reuben James, Ensign Burkett, later promoted to a naval lieutenancy, was assigned to the naval air corps. He was two years at Pensacola and two years an instructor at the San Diego, Calif., base.

He was an officer on the U. S. navy expeditionary flights to Alaska, and the routes then mapped are still used between San Francisco and Juneau. He was killed on a training flight in January, 1930, and is buried at Arlington National cemetery. On May 31, 1930, the U. S. geographic board named an Alaskan mountain peak Mt. Burkett In his memory.

O. S. Burkett, 534 Cedar, a brother, has a photograph of the Reuben James hanging on a wall of his auditor office in the Alexander building, where it has hung for 10 years.

He was one who recalled the early voyages of the destroyer in the first year of its launching, two decades before a torpedo hit sent it to the bottom, while on convoy duty.

Distinguished Flying Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Eugene F. Burkett, United States Navy, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as navigator of the Alaskan Aerial Expedition during the Summer of 1926, materially aiding in successfully performing a hazardous and difficult aerial survey of Southeastern Alaska.

General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 144 (November 8, 1930)
Service: Navy
Division: Alaskan Aerial Expedition
Rank: Lieutenant

Namesake

Mountain Burkett, in Alaska, is named for Eugene.

Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

January 1920

Ensign, USS Nevada

Others at this command: CDR John Rodgers '03, LT Bernard Eekhout '18, and LT Fred Byers '18.

January 1921

Ensign, USS Reuben James

January 1922

Ensign, USS Brooks

May 1923

Lieutenant (j.g.), Observation Squadron (VO) 1

July 1923

Lieutenant (j.g.), Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet, USS Aroostook

Others at this command: LCDR Nathan Chase '12 and LT Fred Byers '18.

September 1923

Lieutenant (j.g.), Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet, USS Aroostook

Others at this command: LCDR Millington McComb '10, LCDR Nathan Chase '12, LT Hugo Schmidt '16, and LT Fred Byers '18.

January 1924

Lieutenant (j.g.), Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet, USS Aroostook

Others at this command: LCDR Millington McComb '10, LCDR Nathan Chase '12, LT Hugo Schmidt '16, LT George Cuddihy '18, LT Dixie Kiefer '19, LT Walther Maser '19, and LTjg Frank Conant, II '20.

May 1924

Lieutenant (j.g.), Torpedo and Bombing Plane Squadron 2

Others at this command: LCDR Nathan Chase '12.

July 1924

Lieutenant (j.g.), Torpedo and Bombing Plane Squadron 2

September 1924

Lieutenant (j.g.), Torpedo and Bombing Plane Squadron 2

November 1924

Lieutenant (j.g.), Torpedo and Bombing Plane Squadron 2

January 1925

Lieutenant (j.g.), Torpedo and Bombing Plane Squadron 2

March 1925

Lieutenant (j.g.), Scouting Plane Squadron 2

Others at this command: LTjg Frederick Kahn '21.

May 1925

Lieutenant (j.g.), Scouting Plane Squadron 2

July 1925

Lieutenant (j.g.), Scouting Plane Squadron 2

October 1925

Lieutenant, Torpedo and Bombing Squadron 2

January 1926

Lieutenant, Scouting Squadron 1

October 1926

Lieutenant, Alaskan Aerial Survey Expedition

October 1927

Lieutenant, Bureau of Navigation, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: LCDR Charles Cecil '16.

January 1928

Lieutenant, Bureau of Navigation, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: LCDR Charles Cecil '16.

April 1928

Lieutenant, Bureau of Navigation, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: LCDR Charles Cecil '16.

July 1928

Lieutenant, Bureau of Navigation, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: LCDR Donald Godwin '11 and LCDR Charles Cecil '16.

October 1928

Lieutenant, Bureau of Navigation, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: LCDR Donald Godwin '11 and LCDR Charles Cecil '16.

January 1929

Lieutenant, Bureau of Navigation, Washington, D.C.

Others at this command: LCDR Donald Godwin '11 and LCDR Charles Cecil '16.

April 1929

Lieutenant, Utility Plane Squadron (VJ) 1B

July 1929

Lieutenant, Utility Plane Squadron (VJ) 1B

October 1929

Lieutenant, Utility Plane Squadron (VJ) 1B

January 1930

Lieutenant, Utility Plane Squadron (VJ) 1B


Class of 1920

Eugene is one of 27 members of the Class of 1920 on Virtual Memorial Hall.