BURGESS, JR., LELAND "LEE" COLONEL ret UNITED STATES ARMY RESERVE Leland "Lee" Heywood Burgess, Jr., age 71, of Birmingham, Ala, died March 16, 2013, in Birmingham.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Leland Heywood Burgess and Corrie Fail Burgess of Auburn, Ala.
Col. Burgess was born on November 18, 1941 in Demopolis, Ala. and grew up in Demopolis and Evergreen.
He was a great storyteller, and took joy in reminiscing about his childhood experiences in Alabama during the 1940s and 50s.
In 1960, he graduated from Evergreen High School where he was active in many organizations. Col. Burgess graduated from the University of Alabama in 1965 with a bachelor's degree in Industrial Management. He was a proud member of Delta Tau Delta where he established many life-long friendships with his fraternity brothers.
While at the Capstone, through ROTC, he was commissioned in the Army as a 2nd Lieutenant of Artillery. After college, Col. Burgess entered flight school at Ft. Wolters, Texas. In 1967, he received his wings as an army aviator at Ft. Rucker, Ala. Later that year, he was deployed to Vietnam where he was assigned to D Troop (air) 3rd Squadron 4th Cavalry, 25th Infantry Division at Cu Chi. Burgess served as a Scout Platoon Leader until his helicopter was shot down by enemy forces during the Tet Offensive in February 1968. Severely wounded, he was able to lead his flight crew members to safety where they were later rescued.
Upon returning from Vietnam, Burgess obtained a master's degree in Business Administration from Auburn University.
He later moved to Chattanooga, Tenn. where he continued his military service in the Tennessee National Guard and Army Reserve. After serving his country for over 30 years, he retired from military duty in 1995. During his military service, he received many service decorations including the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and the Air Medal.
In civilian life, Col. Burgess was in senior bank management for over 35 years in Chattanooga. He was the Executive Vice President and Cashier for Pioneer Bank and later served as the Director of Commercial Lending and Senior Vice President at First Tennessee Bank. Col. Burgess served the Chattanooga community in both professional and civic capacities.
He was President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Chattanooga Chapter of the American Banker's Association, a member of Chattanooga's Better Business Bureau, and a long-time member of the Mountain City Club where he served as President and held a position on the Club's Board of Directors. He was an Executive Board Member for the Cherokee Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, a member and past President of the Brainerd Lions Club, a member of the local Kiwanis Club, and a Tennessee Squire.
Col. Burgess attended Brainerd United Methodist Church.
He enjoyed the outdoors and was always ready for a fishing trip or a round of golf. He spent many Saturdays at Council Fire Golf Club where he was a member.
After retirement, Col. Burgess relocated to Birmingham, Ala. There, he attended Canterbury United Methodist Church and was a member of the Crawford Owen Class. He also devoted much of his time to his grandson, Charles, telling him war stories and building model airplanes.
In recognition of his patriotism and love of Alabama football, the University of Alabama honored Col. Burgess by naming him a Distinguished Veteran during a 2006 home game. Col. Burgess was an advocate of the Veteran's History project, established by the Library of Congress. His personal war experiences are recorded and can be viewed at http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/bib/23304 and at http://www.centaursinvietnam.org/Roster/MyPage/mypageBurgess.html.
Col. Burgess will be remembered for his faith, his loyalty and dedication to family and friends, his professionalism and character, his quick wit, his story telling, and his love of Alabama football.
Col. Burgess is survived by his wife, Pamela Langham Burgess of Birmingham; daughter, Dr. Karen Burgess, of Tuscaloosa; daughter Stacy Burgess Hinkle (Logan) and grandson Charles Leland Hinkle, all of Birmingham.
The family will receive friends on May 11th beginning at 12:30 p.m. in the church parlor with a memorial service following at 2 p.m. in The Chapel of Canterbury United Methodist Church, Mt. Brook, Ala. celebration of life will follow the service.
Interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va.
The Family wishes to express its gratitude to the physicians and staff of the Kirklin Clinic at Acton Road, the staff of the Medical Intensive Care Unit at UAB Hospital, the ministers and staff of Canterbury United Methodist Church, and the members of the Crawford Owen Class for their prayers and support.
Published in The Birmingham News April 12 to April 14, 2013.