Name: Michael Thomas Burns Rank/Branch: O2/United States Air Force Unit: 433rd TFS Date of Birth: 18 October 1944 Home City of Record: Fort Wayne IN Date of Loss: 05 July 1968 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 173600 North 1062700 East Status (in 1973): Returnee Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4D Other Personnel in Incident: Carl Crumpler, returnee
Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.
I was born and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I am 28 years old, my birthdate is 18 October 1944. I attended De Paul University and graduated with a BA in Economics in 1966. I was introduced to flying through the ROTC during my senior year, and I loved it. Pilot training at Vance AFB, Enid, Oklahoma was one of the biggest years of my life. Learning to fly jets was exhilarating.
I was sent to the back seat of the F-4, and upon completion of the normal aircraft training and survival schools, I went to Ubon, Thailand 29 May 1968. Colonel Carl Crumpler was my front seater and we were shot down on 5 July 1968 attacking a gunsight in the panhandle of North Vietnam. It took 35 days to get to Hanoi by truck. I was beaten up but not severely tortured. I lived in five different camps during the 56 months of my stay.
There were various things that, at different periods, had great value to me and gave meaning to my life. The firm conviction that no matter what else happened, my family loved and cared for me constantly, was very important to me. At times, the overwhelming feeling of life-sounds, breathing, consciousness, good health - the sheer realization of just "being," and a subtle, distant conviction of the existence of our "Source," that almighty "Love-Energy" that created all and is a part of all, was overwhelming and good. Of course, those guys, those other minds that I was "forced" to live with, who made me laugh (at myself), informed me, and shared their life's experiences with me - to them I look with respect, sympathy and love.
I came home, to beautiful home, in March 1973. Since my Air Force debriefing, l have been traveling back and forth across this country, seeing and meeting friends. I'm presently at San Antonio getting recurrent in the T-38. My plans for the future are not definite. A career in the USAF, a career with the commercial airlines or a return to school (stressing the humanities) seem to be foremost in my mind. I'm very proud of my 56 months as a POW. We did not stop living in Hanoi, we just found other avenues of existence that had meaning for us.
It's good to be home. Thank you America, whatever your beliefs, for the wonderful welcome I received. Thank you USAF for your kind reception and treatment.
===================== Michael and his wife Cynthia reside in Florida.