Born to Elmer and Dagmar Burkholder, Burkholder grew up with three brothers and three sisters in Fort Madison, Iowa. He graduated from high school in June of 1943 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy the same year.
After basic training, Burkholder was sent for pilot training. According to Burkholder, shortly after getting there, the Navy decided they had too many pilots, and he was assigned to the USS South Dakota as a radar technician, for which he was responsible for the operation and maintenance of the installed radar and electronic warfare equipment on the ship when it went into combat areas.
According to Burkholder, the USS South Dakota saw most of its action before he went on board, and he was reluctant to speak of any action he may have encountered while serving on the ship. One thing he did say was that he was very proud to serve his country.
Read the full story in The Lincoln County News.