World War II veteran from Shelton is helping new vets

Veterans are coming home in need of work to take care of their families, and Shelton resident Burke Ross wants to help.

“Today’s veterans — from Iraq and Afghanistan — face the lack of employment and lack of jobs and inability to put food on the table,” Ross said.

“We [veterans of World War II] were able to get jobs, and people were pretty nice about giving help,” but today that’s not necessarily the case, he said.

Ross is part of the Purple Heart organization to help give back.

Was injured while serving overseas

A veteran of World War II, Ross was in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving overseas at age 18. “I was not much of a hero during the war,” he said. “I was just there and I did my thing.”

Now Rosee wants to give back to those veterans who are coming home badly injured.

“Most of the Marines were in the Pacific area,” he said. He served in two battles: The Battle of Cape Gloucester and at Peleliu in the Philippines, to recapture the area. That was where he was shot in the leg.

“Back in those times, there was no penicillin [and] it took a long time for my wounds to heal,” Ross said.

Went from hospital to hospital

From Peleliu, after being injured he was sent from military hospital to military hospital.

When it came time to decide if he should be sent back to battle or to be discharged, Ross was sent to a hospital on Long Island.

“I had a couple of operations there” for a bone infection, he said. Ross then had another operation “to try to put the nerves back together again,” but it didn’t work.

Enlisted in the military at 17

Ross was born and raised in Greenwich, joining the Marines at 17. When he returned from battle, he found that Greenwich was a very expensive place to live, so for a time he lived in Bridgeport and Fairfield, eventually settling in Shelton.

“I started in the Combat Wounded Veterans Military Order of the Purple Heart organization in 1987 [or] 1988, and I’ve been doing that ever since,” Ross said. “It’s the only truly combat-wounded group.”

He said he joined the group after his family was taken care of, and his children were grown.

“I was just a grunt” during service time, Ross said. “I thought that when I came back I could help some of the guys who had it a lot worse than I did.”

Gift card donations

According to the organization’s website, “the Purple Heart is an American decoration — the oldest military decoration in the world in present use and the first American award made available to the common soldier.”

Currently, the organization is collecting $25 gift cards to donate to veterans.

“Twenty-five dollars doesn’t buy much, but at least it is a help that we can afford,” Ross said. “That is a joy, to know that you were able to help someone else.”

To help the organization by making a donation or to volunteer your time to help with the website, visit