One of the last surviving Hoosier WWII veterans passes away on Veterans Day

Junior Dale Burton. (Photo provided by family)

TIPTON COUNTY, Ind. (WTHR) – A Hoosier veteran, who helped interrogate a Nazi colonel and was nearly shot in the head by a sniper during World War II, passed away on Veterans Day 2019.

Junior Dale Burton lived to be 97 years old. He was born and raised in Tipton County, Indiana.

Burton was one of the last surviving World War II veterans who fought on the battlefields of Europe. He was sworn into the Army on Feb. 12, 1943, and was discharged on Nov. 20, 1945 – which also happened to be his 23rd birthday.

“That was a pretty good present,” Burton told our partners at the Kokomo Tribune with a chuckle.

Burton was only 19 years old and working in Anderson when he was drafted. He was sworn in at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis to serve in the U.S. Army.

Junior Dale Burton and wife, Elizabeth. (Photo provided by family)

“That’s what all my friends were doing, so I knew it was coming,” Burton said.

Burton ended up taking Army Ranger basic training while in Washington before shipping out to Louisiana and then Camp Phillip, Kansas, for more training. He was at Camp Phillip on D-Day on June 6, 1944, when the Allied Forces launched the largest seaborne invasion in history in Normandy, France.

Among his list of accomplishments, one thing of note for his family was that Wernher von Braun, the nuclear physicist who was the leading figure in the development of rocket technology in Germany, surrendered to him during World War II.

Even more than 70 years after the war ended, Burton spoke of it like he'd just come home from the battlefield.

He could even tell you the kind of truck he rode in after arriving near Normandy Beach, France, as well as what the weather was like while he was training for battle in the state of Washington and his bunk number on the ship that took him to the war.

Before he passed, Burton lived in the house that he and his wife, Elizabeth, built near Kempton. He’d been retired for about 30 years after a long career as a farmer and Chrysler employee.

His family says he was a well known figure in the community and many people will remember him.