Gary Burgard was working as an instructor pilot in Jacksonville, Illinois prior to his induction into the U.S. Army in the mid 1960s. By April, 1968 he was serving in South Vietnam as an infantry sergeant with the 9th Infantry Division near Saigon. He then was transferred to a MACV (Military Assistance Command-Vietnam) team south of Saigon near the Mekong delta. Burgard was injured by enemy fire twice, and later received the Bronze Star Medal,and the Army Commendation Medal for heroism. He returned to the United States in March, 1969.