Private Burrows lamented that he had studied hard. He did not do drugs and even had volunteered for the Army, deferring his study of civil engineering at Hamilton to serve his country, despite the public’s growing negativity toward the war. He prayed daily and had routinely received communion at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, just down the block from his home.
A tormented semiconscious Richard screamed in desperation. He pleaded for relief from his pain as his voice echoed through Ward 3 of Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. He finally fell into an oblivion brought on by a darkening, dense cloud of total exhaustion. His primal self, weakly rebelled against the excruciating pain that relentlessly wracked his body. A sickening odor of decay emanated from his wounds as he anguished in knowing that this was the end. Soon, he would disappear into death, through no fault of his own.
The comfort of prayer had deserted him. His last thoughts, as his exhausted debilitated body began to shut down and yield to eternal sleep, were of Michelle and his parents. At 02:00 hours on December 17, 1971, he suffered a cardiac arrest. The alarms sounded, followed by frantic attempts at resuscitation. Richard’s depleted, septic body and soul had lost all resilience.
Private First Class Richard P. Burrows’ Code Blue was called at 02:40 hours. Those in attendance peered down and stood in silence. Some prayed. Others wept. His attending doctor could not believe what had happened. “What did we miss?” the Major bemoaned to the nearby staff. An exhausted, bereaved Michelle arrived an hour later.
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