Michael Burke was born on June 8, 1916, in Enfield, Connecticut. He graduated with a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania in June 1939, and worked for the Insurance Company of North America from 1939 to 1942. Burke joined the Office of Strategic Services on May 15, 1942, and entered the U.S. Navy for Officer Training on December 7, 1942, receiving his commission on April 21, 1943. LT Burke served as an operative of the OSS in Europe from April 1943 to March 1945, and left active duty and joined the Naval Reserve on December 5, 1945. He remained in the Naval Reserve until his retirement on October 1, 1965. After leaving active duty, he served as a clandestine operative of the Central Intelligence Agency in Europe from 1949 to 1954, worked as executive director of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, served as Director of CBS Europe, President of the New York Yankees, and President of Madison Square Gardens. Michael Burke died on February 5, 1987.
His Navy Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty in the performance of outstanding duty in connection with military operations against an armed enemy in enemy occupied territory, from 9 September to 17 October 1944. After having been parachuted behind enemy lines in the Haute-Saone Province, France, Lieutenant (junior grade) Burke led patriot recruits in three actions against an enemy force vastly superior in numbers and arms, and distinguished himself by exceptional heroism and leadership in the capture of forty-eight enemy soldiers, the killing of a larger number, the liberation of forty-three hostages and the capture of quantities of enemy material. He volunteered for and carried out three exceptionally hazardous reconnaissance missions of great value to the attacking United States Forces. In crossing and recrossing the enemy's lines time after time to carry out his brilliant reconnaissance work, Lieutenant (junior grade) Burke displayed utter disregard for his personal safety, inspiring leadership and extraordinary heroism. The heroic conduct throughout this dangerous mission reflects great credit upon himself and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Navy.