Shamong airman surprises his daughter

The smile on Cameron Burr’s face said it all: “Daddy’s home!”

The Indian Mills first grader-ran into Master Sgt. Dave Burr’s arms as he surprised her. The airman is back from a recent two-month tour in Afghanistan.

“I wanted to give her a little treat and see her reaction,” Dave said. “I just wanted to give her a little something to smile about today.”

In the military for 20 years, Dave said being sent overseas is more difficult for him now because he has children.

And his wife, Candace, is understanding.

“She’s always been very supportive, so it hasn’t been too hard,” Dave said. “They’ve been very strong.”

That support helps him focus while away.

“Once you get ready to go and you get over there, you put the mission first and you try and concentrate your best on your job,” Dave said. “Once you get over there, you can just concentrate on what you’re doing and you don’t have worry so much about what’s going on at home.”

He is an avionics technician for F-16s.

Dave said he does not know when he will be deployed again, but sees it happening every two years or so. A career airman, he is a part-time guardsman.

He said the camaraderie he shares with other military people is the most rewarding part of being in the military as well as achieving mission goals. His role is to support ground troops who are in the most danger.

“That makes you feel good when you get to talk to those guys and know it makes a difference,” Dave said.

He said he would “absolutely” recommend the military — in part because your fellow servicemen and servicewomen are like family.

And, speaking of family, Dave’s dad was career Army.

“I always appreciated what he did for the military,” Dave said, noting his father was a mentor. “I would do it all over again.”

He grew up in Marlton and has lived in Shamong for seven years.

“I love it,” he said of this town.

Dave always liked planes and so that is partly why he joined the Air Force.

This was the first time in 20 years he was away during a major holiday.

He has a big family and they helped his kids celebrate Christmas.

Dave was stationed at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

“It’s like any other place over there,” he said. “We’re there to help and some people don’t like us.”

Dave said it is hard for him to see exactly what progress is being made in Afghanistan.

“We work on the fighter jets that are supporting the Army every day — and they’re the guys who are getting shot at all the time,” he said. “They’re the ones who are right in the front lines. So I take it day to day. If we’re out there and we supported the Army and those guys got back safely that day … we did our job.”

Dave and Candace have been married seven years. Their daughter, Cameron, is 6 and they have another daughter, Savannah, who is 4.

“It is very exciting for him to be home,” Candace said. “It was three long months” especially since he was away during Christmas.

Her husband has been sent to the Middle East six times and, after Sept. 11, 2001, his tours increased.

“I thought it would be overwhelming” during the holidays, Candace said, but she had a lot of help from family and friends. And Skype.

“All you need is the visual image of him and just to look at him really gives you that bond as opposed to on the phone,” she said.

Candace said the girls are proud of their dad and understand his absence.

“I think they just know that he has to go to work and whether it’s far away whether it’s close,” she said.