Captain Steven J. Burley, '72

Steve rose to great heights from humble beginnings. When the coal mines and steel mills of Western Pennsylvania slowed in the early 1960s, Steve was the oldest of three sons that his Mom, Betty Lou and Dad, Joe brought to Magnolia, New Jersey, where they started a new life. Steve emerged as a leader early in life on the playing fields in Magnolia, Somerdale and Stratford. Steve was a year around three- sport athlete of renowned tenacity and determination through his high school and college years.  What he lacked in size, speed or strength was always overshadowed by his relentless spirit and positive attitude.

Steve possessed a passion for life, family and friends!  He proceeded to graduate from St. Gregory’s, Paul VI, The Marine Military Academy and ultimately the United States Naval Academy. Along the way, he blazed a trail of enviable academic, athletic and social success. Steve Burley is one of America’s fallen heroes…heroes like Steve Burley have a bonding effect on their surviving families-as survivors of these fallen heroes- freedom will always have a far different price and meaning to us. I share those heartfelt feelings with you because I want you to remember- I want you to remember that Steve Burley treated his classmates and teammates from PVI like family…and because of that, because you all are part of Steve’s family, you too are part of that bond. And because you were a part of Steve’s family and a part of that bond- we call upon each of YOU to never forget the true definition of Freedom, we call upon YOU to never forget the true cost of Freedom. We are all family… we owe that to each other…and we owe that to our heroes like Steve Burley.
If Steve were here now, he would want you to celebrate his life; Steve would want you to consider his life a success! Steve Burley was an extraordinary individual! If you knew Steve, you understood the true definition of leadership, character and integrity. To know Steve was to be touched by a rare greatness that comes along once in a generation, if even in a lifetime.
To family and friends, Steve was unique-unique as a son, unique as a brother, unique as a friend, unique as a husband, unique as a Dad, unique as a Marine and always and forever, unique as our hero! Steve’s life was a success! He laughed often and much. He won the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children. Steve earned the appreciation of honest critics, he appreciated the beauty in life and Steve always strove to find the best in others. Steve left this world a better place. Our family sees that daily in the son Steve and his wife Jude brought us…friends like you have seen it in all the people Steve truly touched. We all breathe deeper because of Steve Burley, we all breathe easier because of Steve Burley…because Steve Burley dreamed impossible dreams…and Steve boldly dared to reach those unreachable stars.
All of us have had someone special in our life like Steve Burley… contact those special people in your life that made a difference…send them a letter, give them a call…even better yet, go see them in person let them know that they made a difference in your life…thank them while you still can and every time you do, remember Steve Burley remember that this is another reason why Steve’s life was a success… because we are all a part of Steve’s family, we will always remember Steve and all of the heroes that paid the price for our freedom.
“Regardless of the situation, challenge, or circumstance, Steve consistently exhibited the same courage, character, loyalty, honor, perseverance, dedication and determination. He could always be counted upon to do more than what was required. Even more, he was a great friend to all of his comrades. He was the best pilot, having been chosen first among us to become a Weapons and Tactics Instructor, which was the top flight designation in the Marine Corps. He was also selected to serve in the United States Marine Corps’ Presidential Helicopter Squadron, HMX-1. Steve was our most outstanding leader. The standards he set were the ones the rest of us tried to follow. Although Steve left us over 25 years ago, his exemplary service still inspires us to reach higher and give more than we would otherwise.” V. M. Corky Gardner III,  LtCol USMC, USNA 77, Friend.