In Loving Memory of
Aubrey Burke, an Apple Valley resident and World War II veteran who “kept the birds in the air” over Europe as a machinist in the Army Air Force, died at the age of 1997.
Aubrey was born in Arkansas in 1923 and was the fourth of five children. His father became a successful oil contractor prior to losing everything in the Great Depression. At the age of 12, Aubrey’s father abandoned his family. That left Aubrey determined to change the course of his life. He rode his bicycle all over town looking for work. He frequently loitered near junk yards and machine shops to watch and learn anything he could.
At the age of 18, Aubrey was nearly destitute and decided to seize an opportunity to learn a trade. He participated in the National Youth Administration, created years earlier by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. After completing training with the N.Y.A., which consisted of 3 months of hands on Machinist training, Aubrey got a job running a lathe on a graveyard shift in Connecticut. This was essential work so Aubrey was not drafted into World War ll.
In the fall of 1942, Aubrey quit his job, returned to Arkansas, and on October 3rd enlisted in the Army Air Force. He trained in Texas, Illinois, Washington and Nebraska. In December of 1943 he deployed overseas to England as part of the 465th Sub Depot, which supported the 392nd Bomb Group.
Aubrey’s machinist training, experience, and resources provided by N.Y.A & the US military kept him mission ready to support the 392nd Bomber Group. Aubrey helped repair battle damage to the B-24 Liberators, which flew on 285 missions between 1943-1945. If there was a need for a tool or part in order to keep these aircraft going that was unavailable, Aubrey and his fellow machinists would re-create it. Inventive ingenuity was key, and Aubrey excelled at this kind of work. Aubrey spent 18 months overseas and was honorably discharged from the Army Air Force in December 1945.
Aubrey had never been a man of much means, so with the help of the G.I. Bill he was able to attend the University of Southern California and earn a degree in psychology. He later joined an Army Air Force Reserve unit in 1949 and was recalled back to active duty in 1950. Due to his degree he was stationed at Victorville Army Airfield instead of being deployed to Korea. He was again honorably discharged in 1953.
For the next 23 years, Aubrey worked at Southwestern Portland Cement Company. After retiring, he opened Burkes Interiors in Apple Valley. He spent another 30 years working as a contractor.
Aubrey Burke passed on December 11, 2020 in route to the hospital after his heart gave out. Aubrey is survived by his loving wife Beverly; son, Stephen; and daughters, Patricia and Peggy; several grandchildren; great-grandchildren; his wife’s children and “the entire High Desert,” Beverly Burke said.
Aubrey Burke’s impact on his family, friends, and community is still very much alive. Before his passing, Aubrey expressed his desire to support young people who struggled financially to pursue their education and job training. It is in that spirit that the Aubrey and Beverly Burke Legacy Endowment has been established. The scholarship awarded by this endowment is to benefit a career technical education student at Victor Valley College, with preference given to veterans. Donations can be made below.