Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

October 2, 2017 at 8:02am

Former AUSA sub-chapter president, wife of former JBLM SF soldier, killed in Las Vegas shooting

Denise Burditus is pictured here in 2010 as the new Lacey sub chapter president and bank manager for Heritage Bank as she signs the group's new by-laws.

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One of the 59 people killed in the Las Vegas mass shooting Sunday had ties to Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Denise Burditus, who originally stood up the Association of the United States Army’s sub chapter in Lacey, Wa., and the wife of a recently retired Green Beret with JBLM’s 1st Special Forces Group died in the arms of her husband at the concert.
"It saddens me to say that I lost my wife of 32 years, a mother of two, soon to be grandmother of 5 this evening in the Las Vegas Shooting,” Tony Burditus wrote in a posting to family and friends. “Denise passed in my arms. I LOVE YOU BABE.”

Tony Burditus spoke with Anderson Cooper on CNN Tuesday evening.  Burditus echoed other eyewitnesses that said at first the gunfire sounded like fireworks or technical problems with the concert sound stage. 

He told Cooper that Denise asked him if those were gunshots.  He told her no in that moment.

Once he did determine the sounds came from gunfire, he thought the shooter was in the concert grounds.  He said if he had known they came from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, he would have chosen a different escape route.

Tony told Cooper he didn't have a chance to tell his wife goodbye.  He said Denise was unconcious the moment she was hit as they fled.

"I am going to miss her greatly - she was a great person," he told Cooper.  He also thanked both first responders and fellow concert-goers for their support.  He said the crisis center in Las Vegas had also been a huge support.  Tony Burditus was headed back to West Virginia to be with his family Wednesday, he told Cooper.

One of Tony Burditus’s followers on Facebook wrote Monday: “Tony, I am so heartbroken and angry for your loss and don't know if I have any words to help. I know Denise was the love of your life and can't imagine what you are going through. Please know, there are many who are with you in thought and prayer during this terrible time. I pray God give you, your family and Denise's family courage, strength, and peace.”
Denise Burditus’s last photo was of her and her husband smiling in front of the stage at Route 91 Harvest in Vegas, Sunday less than an hour before Stephen Paddock reportedly fired countless bullets onto the crowd of 22,000 country music fans.
Carlene Joseph, former president of the local AUSA chapter said Tony retired from the Special Forces last year, and he and Denise recently moved to West Virginia. "Denise was working on her college degree and was so proud of her grades.   I was one of her many cheerleaders on Facebook.  She had a West Virginia heart as big as she was.  Total shame this woman was taken so quickly during the second stage of her life.   She just turned 50."
Denise worked for Heritage Bank in the Lacey area, and while there, she spearheaded the efforts to start a subchapter for the Captain Meriwether Lewis AUSA Chapter in that community.
“In addition to being an Army wife, Denise Burditus volunteered her time and effort to organize  and then lead an AUSA organization in the Lacey area to support soldiers serving in combat and their families,” said Major General (retired) John Hemphill, a member of AUSA.  “She made this organization successful.”
Joseph concurred. “We lost a special friend and our hearts ache for her family.”
The Captain Meriwether Lewis Chapter of AUSA represents the JBLM area to the headquarters in D.C.  The chapter is divided into many sub chapters, and those sub chapters are aligned to support key units on the base.

A local community leader and military spouse Stephanie Scott wrote on Facebook, "Denise was such an amazing woman. To the family, please know that your wife and mom touched so many lives while living in WA state. There is an entire contingent of people on standby wanting to do something for your family. I know there is nothing we can do to ease the pain, no words that can make this easier. But with time, I hope it brings you some measure of peace to know that this incredible, giving woman's memory will forever live on in the lives of all she touched. She was truly one of a kind with such a huge heart. Love and prayers from so many here in WA."

A GoFundMe site has been established to support the Burditus family at gofundme.com/burditus-family-fund

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