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FP3 Wayne Francis Burkhall, U.S. Navy

The Western Star, June 4, 1954

Wayne Burkhall Missing from Service

Foul Play Feared By Civil Authorities

Wayne Burkhall, son of Mr. and Mrs. Francis Burkhall and husband of Mrs. Ellen Plank-Burkhall of Coldwater, has mysteriously disappeared from duty on his ship, a destroyer, which has been at Newport, Rhode Island, according to reports received by the Western Star.

Wayne enlisted in the regular navy about three and a half years ago and had a leave coming up around June 1. His four year enlistment will be up around the first of the coming year and he has made a record which is without a blemish in every respect.

On Army Day, May 14, he and several other navy enlisted men attended the observance in Boston and he has not been seen since by any of his buddies or officers.

Phone calls to his commanding officer and to civilian authorities have shed practically no light on his disappearance.

He has been having a case of malaria fever but this has not confined him to the hospital. Mr. Burkhall is a studious type of young man of excellent habits. It is feared that he may have met with foul play. Mr. and Mrs. Burkhall have one son, Mark, aged about a year.

It is hoped that soon more light will be shed upon the disappearance of the Coldwater sailor.

The Western Star, June 11, 1954

Wayne Burkhall's Body Has Been Found

Apparently He Fell Into Ocean from His Ship

Mrs. Wayne Burkhall of rural Coldwater has received a phone call from the head of the Massachusetts State Police that they had found and identified the body of her husband, Wayne Burkhall. His navy identification tag, which bore his fingerprints, name, serial number and blood type, was around his neck, providing positive identification.

Shortly before the call, Wayne's commanding officer called, stating that they feared the outcome which was revealed by the state police.

An unverified report is that Wayne was in the hold of the ship with some of his buddies and remarked that he felt dizzy and would have to have more air. It is thought that when he was on the top deck be became dizzy and lost his balance, falling into the ocean from his ship, which was anchored out a ways from shore.

The family is awaiting further word from the navy department and when the body will be shipped to Coldwater for burial. The sorrowing relatives have the heartfelt sympathy of all.

The Western Star, June 18, 1954

Final Rites for Wayne Burkhall Held Monday

Methodist Church Filled to Capacity in His Honor

Funeral service for FP3 Wayne F. Burkhall, who lost his life on May 17 when he fell into the Atlantic Ocean from his ship during a period of illness, were held in the Methodist church in Coldwater Monday afternoon, June 14, at 3:00 o'clock, the body which was recovered on June 3, was accompanied on the train to Coldwater by HM3 Harry Heath from the Boston Naval Station. The church was filled to overflowing by friends and relatives as evidence of their high esteem for one of the communities finest young men.

The services were in charge of Rev. Dale Field, pastor of the Prairie Vale Friends church, and Rev. H. C. Atkins, the Methodist church pastor. Mr. and Mrs. Gurney T. Hadley, sang "Sometime We'll Understand" and "God's Tomorrow," accompanied on the organ by George Wolf. The casket bearers were Jerry Allen, Victor Thompson, Jim Burt, Gene Gates, Charles Timmons, Don Robinson, George Smith and Carl Robbins.

Interment was in Crown Hill cemetery near this city. The colors and color guard were provided by the American Legion Post 122. Taps for the deceased veteran was sounded by Norman Butcher.


Wayne Francis Burkhall, son of Francis and Alma Burkhall, was born at Coldwater, Kans., on September 23, 1930. He departed this life by drowning in the Boston, Mass., harbor while serving his country, on May 17, 1954, at the age of 23 years, 7 months and 24 days.

He attended the Coldwater high school, graduating with the class of 1948. Wayne enlisted in the United States Navy January 2, 1951, for a four year enlistment. He was sent to Kansas City for his physical examination and took his boot training in the Great Lakes Naval Training Center. He was assigned at the San Diego Naval Station to the Ernest G. Small, a small destroyer, which struck a mine in Korean waters, the accident killing nine sailors and injuring 51. The ship was backed to Japan where an 80 foot false bow was installed, which permitted the ship to return to the United States, where it was put out of commission.

In January, 1952, the Coldwater sailor, was transferred to the Thaddeus Parker, a destroyer escort, which went through the Panama Canal to the east coast the following month and continued to operate out of its new base at Newport Rhode Island. Wayne was a Fireman Pipefitter, Third Class.

He had served three and a half years in the navy, three months of this time near Korea. He was held in the highest regard by his fellow sailors and his commanding officers and had a record of which any man in uniform would be proud. He never complained about serving his country or his community and was a friend to every one.

On December 28, 1961, Wayne was united in marriage with Miss Ellen Plank at Coldwater, Kans. One son, Mark Wayne, was born to bless this union.

Mrs. Burkhall was privileged to join her husband at Boston from July, 1952 to January, 1953, and again for six months the latter part of 1953, they and their son enjoyed the companionship of a happy family. Wayne had two harvest leaves and was due for a third leave at the time of his death.

Wayne was a member of the Prairie Vale Friends church and was faithful to his church as long as he lived.

He leaves to mourn his passing his widow, Ellen: his son, Mark; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Francis Burkhall; one brother, Carl; one sister, Evelyn, all of Coldwater; his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. R. E. Burkhall, of Stafford, Kans.; a number of uncles, aunts and cousins and a host of friends.

He was a kind and loving husband, a father and son and will be greatly missed by all who knew him. The sympathy of the entire community goes out to the bereaved relatives in this their time of sorrow.

Also see:

Wayne Burkhall's Ship Hits Mine, The Western Star, October 12, 1951.

Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news articles to this web site!

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