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Archmere Academy presents posthumous diploma to family of student killed during World War II

Frank Burr received his diploma from Archmere Academy posthumously. He died at sea when a German torpedo struck the warship on which Burr was part of the crew. Photo courtesy of Archmere Academy.

CLAYMONT — Veterans Day, which was celebrated on Nov. 11, was a special occasion at Archmere Academy, where a former student was honored for his service and for sacrificing his life during World War II before his classmates graduated.

Frank Carpenter Burr began at Archmere in the fall of 1941, a few months before Pearl Harbor was attacked on Dec. 7. Two years later, Burr joined the Merchant Marines at 16 and began sea duty in March 1944. In the final months of the war, Burr was assigned to S.S. Oklahoma as a Merchant Marine and fireman-watertender.

Jack Burr (right), a 1947 graduate of Archmere Academy, received a diploma for his brother Frank on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, at the school. Frank Burr was killed in action during World War II in what would have been his senior year at Archmere. Photo courtesy of Archmere Academy.

The unescorted Oklahoma and its crew of 72 were sailing between South America and Africa and was hit by a torpedo fired by a German submarine. Burr died at age 19 on March 28, 1945, and he was awarded the Combat Star, which is given to Merchant Marines who are forced to abandon ship when attacked.

Jack Burr, who graduated from Archmere in 1947, received his brother’s diploma from Archmere headmaster Michael Marinelli. Marinelli said it was a “small token of gratitude” to remember Frank Burr and his service to the country.

“The beginning of the Archmere’s yearbook in 1943 begins with a statement about those in service that says, ‘Because they are defending their country and all that it stands for, because they are helping to liberate the world from the tyranny of dictatorship, because they are shedding their blood that we at Archmere may still laugh, study, play, and pray the way they did, we gratefully dedicate this book,’” Marinelli said. “Presenting Frank’s family with the diploma he would have earned seems like a small token compared to the immense gratitude Archmere continues to have for those who have served.”

Jack Burr also received an American flag that has flown over the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.