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Army Staff Sgt. Jerry C. Burge

Died April 4, 2007 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

39, of Carriere, Miss.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died April 4 in Taji, Iraq, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Also killed was Army Cpl. Joseph H. Cantrell IV.

Soldier from Picayune dies in Iraq, family says

The Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. — An Army soldier from Picayune who had already received Purple Hearts or injuries he sustained in previous deployments has died in Iraq, his family says.

Army Staff Sgt. Jerry Clark Burge Jr., 39, was killed April 4 by a roadside bomb, his family told The Picayune Item newspaper.

He was a member of the 1st Cavalry Division based in Fort Hood, Texas, and was stationed near Baghdad when a vehicle he was traveling in passed over an explosive device, said Rosalie Gower, Burge’s ex-wife.

Burge was a demolitions expert and engineer with his battalion. His friend, James Taylor, said Burge received Purple Hearts for injuries during previous missions.

During one mission in Kosovo, Burge was investigating a bomb in a house when it exploded, damaging his eyesight, hearing and giving him a concussion, Taylor said. In his first mission in Baghdad, a rocket-propelled grenade blast injured his shoulder, the soldier’s family and friends said.

“He got injured several times, but he kept going back,” Taylor said.

When he was in high school, Burge lived with his aunt and uncle in Carriere, Bobbie and Glen Kennedy, after Burge’s parents moved to Japan when he was 17.

Glen Kennedy said Burge stayed with them to finish high school. After high school he moved to Japan to be with his parents.

“He was well liked, he loved Picayune. This was his home,” Bobbie Kennedy said.

Before Burge left on his most recent mission, he told Bobbie Kennedy that he was going overseas because his men needed him.

“He said he would die doing what he wanted to do,” Bobbie Kennedy said.

Funeral services were incomplete.

Miss. soldier killed in Iraq to be buried in Picayune

By Holbrook Mohr

The Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. — Army Staff Sgt. Jerry Clark Burge Jr. will be buried April 12 in Picayune, the tiny South Mississippi town he called home before embarking on a military career that took him around the world and into Iraq.

Burge, 39, was a career soldier who had already received a Purple Heart for injuries sustained in a prior deployment when he was killed in Iraq on April 4, his family said.

Burge and Cpl. Joseph H. Cantrell IV, 23, of Ashland, Ky., both died when a roadside bomb exploded near their vehicle, the Department of Defense said.

“The world lost an excellent human being. He was a soldier and he knew the risks, but he was willing to take the risks,” said Burge’s aunt, Bobbie Kennedy. “I believe that this nation lost a great man. He was a hero. We just brought him (his body) from the plane a little while ago and a lot of our town turned out to receive him.”

Funeral services are set for 1 p.m. April 12 at McDonald Funeral Home in Picayune. Burial will follow at the New Palestine Cemetery.

Burge was a demolitions expert and engineer and had received a Purple Heart for injuries he sustained in an explosion when he was in Kosovo. He was on his second tour of duty in Iraq when he was killed, Kennedy said.

Kennedy described Burge as a tough soldier and leader, but a gentle father of three who loved to laugh and spend time with his family.

“He was just an all-around good guy,” Kennedy said. “He had a lot of friends and he came from a big family. I’m just thankful to have been a part of his life. We loved him very much.”

Burge and Cantell were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Burge is the second soldier from Picayune, a town of about 10,800, to die in Iraq.

Army Staff Sgt. Clint D. Ferrin, 31, also of Picayune, was killed in March of 2004 with three other soldiers when their Humvee hit a roadside bomb in Baghdad. At least 52 soldiers and Marines with strong Mississippi ties have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to an unofficial Associated Press count.

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