Harry Gail Burkett was born was born on April 18, 1919 to Henry and Gettie Eshbaugh Burkett in Jefferson County, Pennsylvania. He had a younger sister named June Louise.
At some point in his younger years, Harry moved to Chester County, but documentation could not be obtained to pinpoint that time period.
Harry entered the Army July 26, 1941. He served with the 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion, 4th Armored Division, and became General Patton’s Spearhead. The 704th was activated in December, 1941 at Camp Pine, New York. They trained with M18 Hellcat tank destroyer
. It was the fastest tank in the theater (60 mph) and was lightly armored to achieve that speed.