SFC (Ret) Manuel Joe Burciaga, U.S. Army, 81, of Palmyra, formerly of Colorado, passed away peacefully with his loving family by his side on Friday, August 27, 2021, in Harmony at Hershey. He was born Saturday, December 23, 1939, in Houston, TX to the late Manuel and Concepcion (Mata) Burciaga.
Manuel enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of 17, served as a paratrooper, earning many decorations, medals, badges, and commendations, including a Bronze Star. He served 3 tours in Vietnam, 2 tours in Korea and was an accomplished marksman earning Expert Badges in the Carbine, M-14 and M-16. He served in the Military District of Washington and was a member of the Quiet Birdmen, accomplishments of which he was humbly proud as a Hispanic and Native American. He retired after 20+ years of faithful service to his country.
In retirement, he became a commercial airline pilot and private aviation instructor. He was also a proud, self-made private business owner in construction and specialty canvasses. He was hard-working, always in motion while learning new skills and improving himself. He was a scuba diver and recently completed a diving vacation with his grandchildren and family. He was a lifelong member of the Catholic Church and member of the Rotary Club, American Legion and VFW.
He is survived by his wife Kathleen Ann (Henderson) Burciaga, two daughters, Kathryn J. Burciaga of Hershey and Jan M. Gaspich and her husband CPT (Ret) Paul J. Gaspich, PA State Police of Palmyra; five grandchildren, 2LT Analyse M. Gaspich-Murray, U.S. Army and her husband Alex, of Denver, PA, A1C Nicolas J. Gaspich, U.S. Air Force, of Palmyra, Tea C. Burciaga, of Hershey, Payton K. Burciaga, of Florida and Piper K. Burciaga, of Florida; a daughter-in-law, Kelly Burciaga; three siblings, Mary Crowe, John Burciaga and Louis Burciaga of Texas. He was also survived by his dear friends in Colorado, Paul Martinez and family and Elaria DeLeon and family. He was predeceased by his son, Joseph Manuel Burciaga, and four siblings, Lupe Crowe, Irene Pitts, Albert Burciaga and Billy Burciaga.
Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday, September 2nd at Noon at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 300 West Pine Street, Palmyra, PA 17078. Burial with full military honors will follow in Indiantown Gap National Cemetery, Annville. A period of food and fellowship will be held following the burial in the Celebration Room at Rothermel-Finkenbinder Funeral Home & Crematory, Inc., 25 West Pine Street, Palmyra.
Memorial contributions may be made in his honor to Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors Inc., 1117 Country Club Road, Camp Hill, PA 17011 or www.pawoundedwarriors.org/donate. Condolences and memories may be shared at www.finkenbinderfamily.com