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U.S. Marine Corps pilot Lt. Col. Sarah Marie Deal Burrow is set to be inducted into the Eastwood Alumni Association’s Eagle Way Hall of Fame.


Burrow, who grew up in Luckey, will be inducted along with athlete Jodi (Juergens) Evans, community member Lloyd Dierker and teacher/coaches Terry McKibben and Jerry Rutherford (bios to come later). The banquet and induction ceremony will be held Saturday, Feb. 25 at Riverview Banquet Hall (American Legion Post 183 building) in Pemberville.

Lt. Col. Burrow, the first female pilot in the corps, is a Pemberville native and 1987 Eastwood High School graduate, lettering in three sports. She joined the Marines in 1992 during her summer break from Kent State University. After studying aerospace flight technology, she earned her commercial and private pilot’s license and is a certified flight instructor.

After the Department of Defense declared in 1993 that women could participate in combat, she began her military flight instruction in Pensacola, Florida and two years later became a pilot.

Burrow was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame in 1999. She and her husband have three boys and live in St. Joseph, Michigan, near the shores of Lake Michigan.

Burrow is married to Philip Burrow, a former Navy F-14 pilot and retired Navy reservist. Her husband currently flies the Boeing 757 and 767 for United Airlines. They are the parents of twin boys Troy and Brandon Burrow, born September 2001, and Eric, born November 2006.

Burrow’s choice to join the Marines was a simple one.

“First of all, my father was in the Marine Corps. Second of all, he said, ‘don’t join the Marine Corps,’” she said, explaining that his words made it a challenge she could not resist.

“Third of all, it seemed to be the hardest of them all,” Burrow continued, talking to a packed house several years ago at American Legion Post 28’s Schaller Memorial Building in Perrysburg.

Her choice to pilot helicopters was an easy one, too, she says.

“I like to fly helicopters a lot better because helicopters can go anyway you want them to and that’s what sold me on helicopters,” Burrow said.

She has served in Afghanistan and Iraq. She typically flew 10- to 11-hour missions, carrying bridges, Humvees, water, generators, assault weapons, mail, dogs, injured children, dignitaries, prisoners, and both surviving and non-surviving American and Afghan troops.

“You name it, we carried it,” Burrow said. “Basically, we carried everything. We were the bread and butter of virtually everything over there. It was amazing the stuff we had on our aircraft. We saw a lot of Marines come and go and some not make it out.”

Burrow’s 52,000 pound chopper weighs 57,000 pounds when filled with fuel, but they never fill it up because of the extreme heat. The cockpit of her helicopter is not air conditioned and can reach 130 degrees inside.

“It’s like a little oven in there. It got really hot. We have to wear gloves because it’s too hot to touch the sticks,” Burrow said. “When we got over there it was only in the high 90s, so it kind of builds up from there. It was a dry heat and you get used to wearing the long sleeves and the sunscreen and head cover and all that.”

Because of the sand and heat, maintenance was occurring on the spot, while flying, and all the time. She said the sand would get into the machinery of the chopper, which is a constant threat. She had dealt with sandstorms before. They weren’t as bad in Afghanistan, but still a problem.

“We got sandstorms in Kuwait, but from what I understand the sandstorms in Iraq are much worse than they are in Kuwait,” Burrow said. “Everything is orange-ish. It’s like stepping on the moon — your footprint would be there.”

Locals ‘throwing rocks’
Burrow’s military awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation (April 2004, December 2003, and June 2004), Air Medal with Strike Flight numeral 4 (November 2009), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (November 1999 and March 2002), Presidential Unit Citation (April 2003), and Afghanistan Campaign (November 2009).

Burrow’s first fleet squadron was HMH-466, the “Wolfpack,” based at MCAS Tustin, Santa Ana, California, where she reported for duty in October 1995. She deployed twice with the “Wolfpack” to Okinawa, Japan.

Upon returning from her second deployment, then-Captain Deal transferred to MAG-16 HQ in San Diego to be group adjutant. After six months, she went to HMH-361, which was short on pilots. After a short period with the “Flying Tigers,” she was sent to Fleet Aviation Specialized Operations Training Group Pacific at North Island, California.

Burrow was deployed in April 2002 to the Middle East for Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, returning in July 25. Then-Major Deal was assigned as executive officer of Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3 at MCAS Miramar.

After 12 years on active duty, Major Deal transferred to the Marine Corps reserves at the end of June 2004, working as static display coordinator for the Miramar Air Show. In 2006, she was asked to join HMH-769 at Edwards AFB, which was short on pilots, and she started flying the CH-53E again.

After a stint based in Pennsylvania, Burrow received an order to mobilize for a seven month deployment to Afghanistan, where she flew over 300 combat hours. She returned home on the eve of Thanksgiving 2009.

While in Afghanistan, Burrow said it was a struggle convincing the locals that the U.S. and allies were there to help. The allies would provide resources for a farmer to grow crops, and then Al-Qaeda would pay the same farmer even more money to fire a rocket at the U.S. soldiers.

“When you get close to the locals, they were either thumbs-up or they were throwing rocks at us,” Burrow said.

In April 2010, she served with the Marine Corps Reserves promotion boards in Quantico, Virginia, which was followed by a stint at the Great Lakes Naval Station north of Chicago and in 20011 with a recruiting station in Lansing, Michigan. Then, she transferred to Camp Smith, Hawaii to be with the safety department and oversee command climate workshops.

Three years later, she transferred to the Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services as part of the transformation section, where she is today.

Social hour for the banquet starts at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 and are on sale at the Pemberville Library and Eastwood High School main office, as well as from any Eastwood hall of Fame board member. To join the alumni association, pay a one-time lifetime dues of $20 for Eastwood alumni and $50 for non-Eastwood alumni.

 

 

 

 

mid-terms

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