Retired Navy Capt. Charles Lee Burbage, 88, of Annapolis, and previously of Memphis, Tenn., and Ocean City, died Oct. 15 at Ginger Cove Health Center after a one-day illness.
Born Feb. 28, 1918, in Berlin in Worcester County, Capt. Burbage graduated in 1935 from Ocean City High School and in 1936 from the Naval Academy Preparatory School. In 1941 he graduated from the Naval Academy where he played on the football team.
In 1971 he retired after 36 years in the Navy and then worked for 10 years for the Holiday Inn Corp. in Memphis.
On Dec. 7, 1941, he was on the USS Detroit during the attack on Pearl Harbor and helped to save the ship by getting underway and rescuing many who were in the harbor waters.
He had a long and eventful career in the military, where he became a jet pilot and flight instructor and was assigned to Fighter Squadron 5 aboard the carrier USS Franklin. He was preparing to begin a flight off the carrier when it was bombed by the Japanese. He survived by jumping from the upper deck into the sea and swimming for several hours before being rescued by a whaling ship.
Capt. Burbage was a member of the elite Golden Eagles, a club for decorated jet pilots, as well as the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and the Association of Naval Aviators.
He enjoyed decoy carving, fishing, golf and handball and in his younger years was the Navy’s national handball champion for two years. He remained a Class A-ranked handball player.
On Sept. 29, 1942, he married the former Mary Teresa Niland, who died earlier this year.
Surviving are two sons, Tom Burbage of Atlanta, Ga., and Jim Burbage of Naples, Fla.; four daughters, Nancy Ohanian of Burke, Va., Carol Burbage of Gaithersburg, Joan Hawkins of Cordova, Ind., and Mary Lee “Mimi” Burbage of Anchorage, Alaska; 13 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. He was the son of the late Daisy Lee Bassett Burbage and William Thomas Burbage.
Graveside services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Evergreen Cemetery in Berlin where arrangements are by Burbage Funeral Home. Memorial contributions may be made to the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, the William T. Burbage Memorial Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 152, Salisbury, MD 21803.
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