LTC Alfred Burkert Jr (retired), 93, passed away peacefully surrounded by his loving family on April 3, 2018 in Honolulu. He lived an incredible life that included serving in three major wars, working several careers, and raising a family with his wife, Clarissa.
Alfred was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, the only child of first generation German immigrants. They lived only 2 miles from the Statue of Liberty, which to him symbolized freedom and opportunity for all. He was proud to be a citizen of the country where "You could come and make something of yourself. You had to work hard, very hard, but you could make it."
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, while still in high school, he volunteered for the Air Defense, then the Merchant Marine. In 1943 he joined the United States Army and enlisted in the medical corps. For the next 27 years he served the Army in the infantry, civil affairs, intelligence, cavalry, engineers, finance and general staff specialties. In the infantry he served under General George Patton and landed in Normandy. As a member of the Third Army he passed through France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic. Fluent in Russian and German, he was assigned to contact dissident Russian troops behind the German lines in Czechoslovakia and bring their general staff into American territory. In the 1960’s he became an interpreter for President Luebke of West Germany.
After serving in WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, LTC Burkert was recognized for his meritorious service and bravery with over 15 medals.
Civilian careers included working as an auditor for a radio station (WOL) and in various capacities for newspaper agencies in the United States and Germany. While in Washington D.C. he worked as a publisher and editor for a nationally syndicated newspaper. In D.C. he became acquainted with President Harry Truman, Secretary of State (formerly General) George Marshall, Lyndon Johnson, and other leaders. In 1948 he was invited to work for Die Neue Zeitung in Munich, Germany, as assistant editor.
In 1952, while attending the Army Language School in Monterey, California, he met his future bride Clarissa, who was an Army officer in the Japanese language department. The couple raised 4 children in Japan, Germany, Iran, and the United States.
Alfred had degrees in engineering, political science, business administration (MBA) and teaching. After retiring from the Army in Hawaii in 1970, he taught at Waipahu High School and Kawananakoa Intermediate School. He taught a range of subjects including US History, World History, American Problems, Consumer Education, Hawaiian Studies, math, and typing.
LTC Burkert enjoyed opera, a good bottle of Chianti, and intellectual discussions. He is survived by his wife Clarissa, children Tana, Beth, Maria and Alfred, and grandchildren David, Daniel, Robert, and Alissa.
Private services will be held at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl.
Arrangements Provided By: Oahu Mortuary
Notice #: 0001095391-01