Jun 14, 2019

Major General Jonathan R. Burton (1919-2019)

Major General Jonathan R. Burton.

Major General Jonathan “Jack” Burton (ret.), died on May 29 in Tucson, Arizona at the age of 99. Burton was predeceased by his wife, Joan. He is survived by his son, Jonathan “Jock” Rowell Burton, Jr. (Pace) of Chesterfield, Virginia, and daughter Judith “Judy” Lewis (Don) of Tucson, Arizona.

General Burton, always a horse lover, was born in 1919 and began his equestrian career galloping racehorses as a young boy. He enrolled in the ROTC Horse Cavalry Division while at Michigan State University and upon graduation headed to Fort Riley, Kansas, headquarters of the U.S. Cavalry School. Enrolled as a second lieutenant in the Ninth Basic Horsemanship Class, he studied weapons administration, riding, shoeing, veterinary procedures, conditioning, marching, planning maneuvers, pathfinding, night compass courses, and stable management. When the U.S. entered World War II, Burton and his regiment were shipped to Australia to prepare to fight as infantry under General MacArthur and from there he was shipped to New Guinea.

Jack Burton at Fort Riley in 1946. USEA Archives Photo.

At the close of the war, Burton headed back to Fort Riley to teach Advanced Horsemanship. For the 1948 London Olympic Games, Burton was selected for both the show jumping and three-day eventing teams, then ultimately competed on the show jumping team. Eight years later at the 1956 Stockholm Olympic Games he rode for the U.S. Equestrian Team on the three-day eventing team. In 1953, Burton helped organize the first continuous horse trials in the U.S. along with Margaret Lindsley Warden and William Haggard. He also had the honor of writing the first rulebook for combined training.

General Burton served two and a half years in Vietnam with the 1st Cavalry Division as a brigade commander and as an assistant division commander. His decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit (1st OLC), Distinguished Flying Cross (2nd OLC), Air Medal (V Device & 54 OLC), Purple Heart, and Army Commendation Ribbon.

Burton (far right) serving as U.S. Chef d'Equipe at Boekelo in 1985. USEA Archives Photo.

After 33 years in the U.S. Army, Burton retired as a Major General, last as commander of the 3rd Armored Division in 1975. Jack served as Executive Vice President for the U.S. Equestrian Team for 10 years and as President of the U.S. Combined Training Association (now United States Eventing Association) from 1985-1987. He was inducted into the USEA Hall of Fame and the US Dressage Federation Hall of Fame. He was also a member of the group that established the North American Young Rider Championships in the 1980s. He worked as an FEI judge, technical delegate, and steward until the age of 92.

Major General Jack Burton cutting the cake at the USEA's 50th anniversary celebration. USEA Photo.


A lifetime's commitment, not only to eventing but to other equestrian disciplines as well, has resulted in a sport that is strong and viable and substantially better because of Burton's guardianship.

Burton will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery later this year.

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