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John Burson to celebrate 100th birthday this weekend
John Burson
John Burson - photo by Covington News/File Photo

COVINGTON, Ga. — World War II veteran and Newton County resident John Burson is closing in on his 100th birthday. Burson’s family will hold a driveby celebration on Sunday, June 18 from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at Allen Memorial United Methodist Church in Oxford. 

‘Area WWII veteran opens up on military service; would ‘do it again’ if called on’

Burson shared his story about serving in the Army in a Nov. 10, 2021 article that ran in The Covington News. 

John Burson was only 19 years old when he was drafted into the Army to serve in World War II. When the country needed him, Burson said he wanted to go do his part. 

And that he did. 

In fact, Burson was so eager to help his country that he and one of his friends almost went and volunteered a year earlier. 

Burson told his mother that he was staying over at his friend Grady’s house and Grady told his parents the same thing. But they both boarded a bus from Monroe to Atlanta to enlist in the US Army. 

They traveled all that way, but they couldn’t go through with it when they arrived in Georgia’s capital. 

“By the time we got to Atlanta, we changed our minds,” Burson said. “We spent the night up there and caught the next bus back home. My mother asked me not to volunteer that, when they need you, they’ll get you.”

Around a year later, they did. 

When Uncle Sam came calling, Burson’s stepfather tried to give him an out, too.

Growing up on a farm in Walton County, Burson’s stepfather asked if Burson wanted him to go to the draft board and get a deferment. 

Burson’s response was, “No, I’m ready to go.” 

Burson served for three years in the Army where he handled prisoners of war. His main responsibilities were to help get men who surrendered out of harm’s way and handle them with care. 

Some days, Burson remembered not doing much at all. Other days it was a lot of coming and going. No day was the same as the next. 

There was one common thing across all days for Burson: prayer. Burson said he would pray every night to make it home. As a matter of fact, he said that’s what helped him get through each day during World War II. 

“I did a lot of praying that I’d be able to come home,” Burson said. “After I was discharged, I was in Atlanta waiting on a bus for Monroe. That was the day I lived for, catching that bus back to Monroe and into the arms of my loving mother. I called my sister in Monroe and asked if she could meet me at the bus station. We got in that car and we couldn’t get home fast enough. There my mother was just crying. That was a great feeling.” 

After his time in the Army, Burson came home and went to work at the Southern Bell Co. He worked there 37 years in Athens, Conyers, Madison and Covington. 

Burson, along with his wife of 74 years, Ruth, were married in 1947. They had three children, Janet, Susan and David, who is now deceased. Now, they have three grandchildren and two great, great grandchildren. 

Looking back on his service, Burson can’t help but feel pride and appreciation for the country he served. 

No matter what may happen, Burson remains grateful for being an American and protecting her during World War II. 

“Right or wrong, it’s my country,” Burson said. “We got a few wrongs but, oh what a great country we have. And it’s because we have people willing to give their lives for us to have a good, safe place. There were times I wasn’t sure if I’d make it back or not. I have no regrets of serving my country and I’d do it again right here today if they called me. I don’t know what a 98-year old can do, but I can do something.”