Obituary of 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
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.