East Valley family honored with highest civilian award Friday

Jun 29, 2018, 5:18 PM
(KTAR News/Mark Carlson)...
(KTAR News/Mark Carlson)
(KTAR News/Mark Carlson)

PHOENIX — The highest civilian award one can receive has been given to three members of an East Valley family for their service to the nation.

The Burk family, Paul Sr., Frances Burk-Wheaton and Phyllis Burk, were all honored posthumously Friday with the Congressional Gold Medal.

The Burks all served in the civilian World War ll Civil Air Patrol Service.

Sharon Franklin is related to all three Burks. She called it an emotional day for her family.

“So proud of my family and what my parents and what my grandfather did in the life of the community. I’m just very proud of everybody,” Franklin said.

John Gruber is also a member of the Burk family. His grandfather Paul Burk, was honored Friday with a gold medal.

“My middle name is Paul, I’m named after him. And it’s quite an honor needless to say to accept on his behalf,” Gruber said.

The Civil Air Patrol is an all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary and operates 550 aircraft and conducts search and rescue missions for downed aircraft.

There are 58,000 CAP members nationwide.

Col. Martha Morris, the commander of the Arizona wing of the Civil Air Patrol, said the Congressional Gold Medal is a high honor for the Burk family and the CAP.

“It’s putting us in touch with our roots and it’s rewarding service to our country so long ago. It was long overdue,” Morris said.

According to a news release, the CAP also plays a role in performing homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies.

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East Valley family honored with highest civilian award Friday