T. Moffatt Burriss, who served his country as a paratrooper in WWII and the people of South Carolina in the House of Representatives, passed away at age 99 on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019.
Burriss was born in Anderson, SC, and graduated from Clemson University. He served as a paratrooper in the 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, from 1942-1945. He was discharged as a Captain and retired as Major in the Army Reserves in 1963. Burriss represented Richland County in the SC House of Representatives from 1977-1990.
During his service in WWII, Burriss participated in some of the war's heaviest fighting -- Anzio Beach, Battle of the Bulge, and Operation Market-Garden at Nijmegen where his unit secured two bridges over the Waal River. This latter battle was recounted in the 1974 book and the 1977 movie "A Bridge Too Far."
Probably the story T. Moffatt Burriss most liked to tell is how during WWII, the then-24-year-old paratrooper, along with his lieutenant and sergeant, took a Jeep across the Elbe River, 45 miles into enemy territory -- and ran face-to-face into with a German Panzer corps, about 15,000 men. Moffatt was able to bluff the Germans into surrendering to him rather than the Russian Army.
The Russians were about to take Berlin and the Germans were caught between the Russian Army and Burriss' regiment.
Burris was also on hand when Allied troops liberated the German concentration camp at Wobbelin. The young soldier saw first hand the atrocities the Nazis caused and took photographs to document the Holocaust. Burriss would later speak to civic groups about his experiences and, in 2000, published his memoirs titled "Strike and Hold."
Upon hearing of Burriss' death, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster tweeted "Moffatt Burris is one of the finest leaders our state and nation has ever produced. His family is one of the finest families I have ever known. He delivered freedom to people around the world and made the lives of those he touched better and safe."
Shives Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements. The funeral service will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 13, at Lake Murray Presbyterian Church, 2721 Dutch Fork Rd., Chapin. The family will receive friends following the service.