Service members honored with engraved pavers

More than 25 members of Victor Burke’s family stretching from New York to Florida along with his work family from East Carolina University’s student financial aid office came together today to remember his longtime service.


  • Edward A. Altieri
  • Willis Brinton
  • Victor Burke
  • Kyle Lanto
  • William Russell Rainey
  • Richard Richardson
  • James Smith
  • Ken Voss
  • James Wagner
  • April Wimmer

Burke was one of 10 people honored with an engraved brick paver during a dedication ceremony for military service members, families and friends. The pavers were permanently placed on campus along Memorial Walk beside Christenbury Memorial Gymnasium, headquarters of the Army ROTC program’s Pirate battalion. Veterans of every branch of the armed services are honored there.

Burke, who died in May, was remembered as a loving husband, father and grandfather with his wife, Martha. The couple have three sons, Donald, Darnell and Devon. “He loved everybody, and he loved ECU,” Martha said. “He was well loved, and we miss him.”

Burke earned the rank of sergeant, serving 13 years in the Marine Corps. He earned rifle and pistol expert badges; Combat Action and Arctic Service Ribbons; the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Good Conduct Medal and National Defense Medal with three bronze stars; Meritorious Unit Commendation; and six letters of appreciation. He served as a marksmanship instructor, and worked as a unit data handler and on defensive driving, shipboard firefighting and damage control, and sea duty indoctrination.

Following active duty, Burke joined ECU’s Office of Student Financial Aid in 2010, helping students understand the process and what they needed to do to ensure they were awarded the best possible aid. He also mentored African American male students and served as a minister in Farmville. “He was a warm and caring guy. When we lost him, we lost one of our centers,” said Julie Poorman, director of the Office of Student Financial Aid and the Financial Services Call Center.

Martha Burke, wife of Victor Burke, hugs East Carolina University Alumni Association staff member Amanda Putzer at the 2022 brick paver dedication ceremony for military service members.

Martha Burke, wife of Victor Burke, hugs East Carolina University Alumni Association staff member Amanda Putzer at the 2022 brick paver dedication ceremony for military service members. (Photo by Ken Buday)

“Victor was part of our reception team and was on the front line. He was one of the first people who students saw and spoke with, and he was always professional, he was always welcoming, he was always helpful to students and families,” Poorman said. “He always had a smile.”

Another former ECU employee, Lt. Col. April Wimmer, was honored. She completed her distinguished career as the professor of aerospace studies and commander of the Air Force ROTC Detachment 600 at ECU. She has continued her service by teaching JROTC at West Craven High School in Vanceboro.

“I didn’t know it was coming,” said Wimmer, who was nominated by ECU alumni Wanda Montano and retired Maj. Gen. William Holland. “I just showed up to the ceremony like I do every year. I had no idea, but Wanda Montano surprised me. It’s an honor to be in such good company.”

ECU alumnus Ken Voss was honored by fellow alum John Osborne; the two were roommates at ECU. Voss served in the Marine Corps and Osborne served in the Coast Guard. Voss served his first tour of duty with the Marines from 1963 to 1966 before enrolling at ECU. He attended night school while at Camp Lejeune and after completing his service earned a scholarship to run track and cross country for the Pirates. After graduating with a degree in geography and a minor in history, Voss served a second tour of duty from 1974 to 2003 with the Marines. “With something like this, when we’re in the military, you never think of something that’s going to happen in the future, so this is quite an honor,” Voss said.

Other honorees as noted from ceremony materials are:

Capt. Edward A. Altieri

Altieri was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Army in June 1961 and served active duty from 1962-64. After active duty and in the reserves, he was discharged in 1969.

Master Sgt. Willis Brinton

Brinton retired after serving 27 years in the motor transport field in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was remembered by the Carden family.

Major Kyle Lanto

Lanto served in the U.S Air Force from 2002 until 2022 as an A-10 Warthog pilot with two combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan respectively. He provided critical close air support to soldiers and Marines engaged with the enemy on the ground. Lanto also worked as a flight instructor and air show performer in the A-10 aircraft later in his career. He retired this year and is a pilot with Fed Ex. Lt. Col. Brad Lanto nominated him.

The late Sgt. First Class William Russell Rainey

Rainey was a U.S Army Green Beret. He had more than 20 years of service and 16 of those were as a Special Forces Operator 18 Delta. “Some gave some, some gave all. He will always be my hero,” his son said in his nomination.

Chief Warrant Officer Richard Richardson

Richardson graduated from ECU in 1995. He served in the U.S. Army from 1995 until 2017 and was an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran. “He was a proud Pirate, patriot and father,” said his nominator Mary Richardson.

The late Cpl. James Smith

Smith served in Europe during World War I and suffered mustard gas poisoning. He returned home to Lenoir County, where he farmed and raised his family in Deep Run. Wanda Montano nominated Smith.

Capt. James S. Wagner, U.S. Navy.

In closing, Lt. Col. Billy Dye, ECU ’04 and the current Air Force ROTC commander at ECU, shared the words of President John F. Kennedy: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

The ceremony was sponsored by the College of Health and Human Performance and the East Carolina Alumni Association. Visit the ECU alumni website for more information about donating a paver.