Born in 1919 in Anderson, South Carolina, and still going strong today, Thomas Moffatt Burriss has lived what you might call a full life. During his time on Earth Burris has been a school teacher, raised four children, founded a successful building company and spent almost 15 years as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives.
That list of accomplishments might be more than enough for any one lifetime. But, in fact, Burriss will almost certainly be remembered by posterity for something else entirely: his service with the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II. It was a service packed with incident, to say the least.
Burris was in the Third Battalion of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne from 1942 until 1945, rising to the rank of captain. His unit saw its fair share of action and more. Later, talking to the The Times and Democrat, Burriss was to describe his time in the army as “two and a half of the roughest years of my life.”