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In Memorium: Pete Burks.

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"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13.

12:00 AM CST on Saturday, November 17, 2007
By JOE SIMNACHER / The Dallas Morning News

Throughout his life, 2nd Lt. Peter Haskell Burks was known as a dedicated team player, a trait he maintained as an Army troop leader in Iraq.

On Wednesday he was commanding a unit just outside the Green Zone in Baghdad when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. Lt. Burks received shrapnel wounds to his head, and five of his men were injured.

"Peter's first words when the explosion happened ... he asked his men, 'Are you OK?' " said his father, Alan Burks of Celina. "Then he said, 'I'm OK.' From what we've learned from the officers who were there, he was conscious for a short period of time."

Lt. Burks, 26, died at the scene Wednesday. His body arrived Friday in Dover, Del., en route to Dallas from Iraq.

Lt. Burks' last actions were no surprise to his father.

"He told me, over and over and over again, he said: 'Dad, my job is to get my 17 guys home safe. ... Then after that I'll get myself home safe.' "

Born in Atlanta, he moved with his family to Dallas in 1987. He was a 1999 graduate of Trinity Christian Academy in Addison, where he was a member of the National Honor Society, played football and baseball, and belonged to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

"He's as good as they come," Mr. Burks said. His son was physically and mentally strong as well as disciplined and committed, he said.

Lt. Burks was the ultimate teammate and a man of strong faith "who could always be counted on to do the right thing," his father said.

He received a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University in 2003. He worked in France as a tour guide for a year, before returning to Dallas and a community relations internship with the Dallas Cowboys. He went on to marketing work for the Dallas Desperados and FC Dallas, the Frisco-based soccer team.

Then he joined the Army.

"He'd been talking about military service since he was a very young man," his father said. "He felt the call to serve. He'd tried corporate life and he just said, 'I have to go do this Dad. This is what I've got to do.' "

He joined the Army in 2006. He excelled in training, receiving leadership awards and progressing to Officer Candidate School, where he was voted president of his class, his father said.

Lt. Burks was commissioned in October 2006 and sent to Fort Sill, Okla. In July, he was assigned to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Vilseck, Germany.

He was deployed to Iraq about three months ago.

Lt. Burks "was like the perfect son," said Daryl Davis, a family friend of 24 years. "He was the epitome of good and value."

He wanted to serve his country and raise a family, Mr. Davis said.

Lt. Burks was engaged to Missy Haddad of McKinney.

In addition to his father, Lt. Burks is survived by his mother, Jackie Merck of McKinney; three sisters, Alison Burks of Celina, Sarah Burks of Dallas and Georgia Burks of Celina; a brother, Zac Burks of Celina; a grandmother, Irene Merck of Fayetteville, Ga.; and a grandfather, Haskell Burks of Fayetteville, Ga.

"Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints." Psalm 116:15

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