David Harry Burpee

David H. Burpee, an Army colonel who retired in 1993 as director of defense information in the

Office of the Secretary of Defense, died May 4, 2022 from pancreatic cancer. He was 80.

 

Col. Burpee graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle in 1965. He served as an air

defense artillery officer early in his career and later as an information officer and military

spokesman. He served as a Ranger advisor to South Vietnamese forces in 1968-1969 and later held command and staff positions, including two assignments with the 2nd Armored Division at Ft. Hood, Texas.

 

In his final three assignments he was Director of Public Affairs for the US Army Military

District of Washington (1987-1989), Chief of Public Information for Allied Command Europe

and senior public affairs advisor to the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (1989-1991) and

Director of Defense Information at the Pentagon (1991-1993) where he led operations of the

Pentagon press room and was the senior uniformed spokesperson for the Department of Defense.

 

His decorations included the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Defense Superior Service

Medal with oak leaf cluster, the NGA Civilian Service Award, and the NGA Distinguished Civilian Service Medal.

 

After his military career, Col. Burpee joined the National Security Industrial Association as a

Vice President for four years and then EduCap, Inc. (at that time the nation’s largest provider or

private student loans with a portfolio in excess of $2 billion) as a senior vice president.

He returned to government service in 2000 as the public affairs officer for the National

Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and remained in that role until retirement in 2009. In 2009 he

formed David H. Burpee and Associates, a full-service public affairs consulting firm.

 

His passions included outdoor hunting and fishing activities as well as community service. In

those capacities he was the president over several years of different homeowner’s associations,

executive vice president of the Virginia Bowhunters Association, president of the Belvoir

Bowhunters, president of the DIA Rod & Gun Club, president of the National Geospatial-

Intelligence Alumni Association-East chapter and member of the NGAA board of directors.

 

David Harry Burpee was born at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941, about five hours after

the attack that “will live in infamy.” His education included a master’s degree in journalism

from the University of Kansas (1974), graduation from the Army Command and General Staff

College (1976), and completion of the Army War College in 1986. He lived in Italy, Germany and Belgium while in the Army as well as several locations in the U.S. before moving to Fairfax County, VA

 in 1985.

 

Survivors include his wife, Justina Hutchko of Elizabeth, PA.; his brother, Bruce Burpee, of Bellingham, WA; two children, Krista Kehrer of

South Riding, VA, and Heather Rafalko of Anchorage, AK; two step-children, Stephen Ruzila of Great Falls, VA, Paul Ruzila of Lake Forest, IL, and five grandchildren.

 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The American Cancer Society or Hunters for the Hungry.