Harwich, Massachusetts Honors Missing WWII Pilot With Bridge Named After Him

Despite a letter in 1943 from U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Robert Jones that her husband, Navy pilot Ralph Wallace Burns was missing, she never stopped believing that he was uninjured and had managed to land safely.

The Second World War pilot never returned home. Fast forward to October this year when he was honored by the State of Massachusetts by having a bridge named after him.

The honor began when Burns’ son, Skip Burns, who, while alive, had a license plate with a gold star that got the attention in 2014 of Rob Mador.

He was a leader of volunteers known as Bridges for the Fallen, which has helped name 71 bridges across the United States for deceased American military personnel.

He chatted with Skip, who disclosed his father died shortly before he was born. They became friends.

Even though Skip died only a few months later, Mador labored with numerous people to name the bridge after Ralph Burns that involved state Rep. Sarah Peake, who drafted the legislation that was eventually passed by the House and Senate and signed by the governor.

He doesn’t think the initial meeting between Skip and Mador was a coincidence; said Ralph ‘Rusty’ Burns III, a Copenhagen, Denmark resident.

He brought his grandfather’s Purple Heart award, copied old letters, and a notice of death and on his mobile telephone, pictures of his grandfather, capecodtimes.com reported.

Burns was part of Torpedo Squadron 27 in the Pacific, and his presumed death was reported on December 10, 1945, by President Harry Truman.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE