Former Loudoun supervisor recovering after heart attack
Former Blue Ridge Supervisor Jim Burton is recovering at his home after suffering a heart attack Oct. 5.
Burton, 75, who served as an independent on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors for four terms, was released from the hospital on Oct. 7.
“I’m feeling well. The prognosis is good,” Burton said from his Aldie home on Oct. 9. “The doctors said my arteries are clear, except for a 40 percent blockage. For someone my age, that’s good.”
“I’m still here. And I’m upright,” he said in good spirits.
Doctors have advised Burton to rest for several weeks, but the former supervisor said he’s anxious to get back to playing golf.
He’s restricted from lifting more than 10 pounds.
“Whatever it is, it happened and I’m dealing with it,” he said.
Burton said he and his wife Lina have received numerous calls and emails from residents concerned about his well-being.
“We’ve had a lot of emails and calls from friends and I really want to thank them for that,” he said.
Burton was first elected a Loudoun supervisor in 1995 to what was then the Mercer District.
His tenure ended in November 2011 when he lost his seat to now Loudoun Board of Supervisors Vice-Chairman Janet Clarke, a Republican.
During his time on the board, Burton served as chairman of the county’s finance committee during a time when the county’s population was exploding and new schools were detrimental.
Prior to his time on the board, the supervisor spent 31 years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a colonel.
In the early 1980s, Burton earned a reputation as a whistle-blower from several major media outlets for his part in challenging the government from inside the system.
Burton, stationed at the Pentagon and overseeing testing of the military’s weapons systems, challenged the government over the safety of the Army’s Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The vehicle’s aluminum armor couldn’t withstand an attack from Soviet antitank weapons, he argued.
Until Burton questioned the system – starting a two-year debate – the military used computer models, not live testing, to determine that its equipment was safe for troops.
His efforts could be seen in 1991 during the Gulf War. Army officials, according to Burton, said a remodeled version of the Bradley saved countless lives. Prior to the war, Congress mandated live fire tests for the vehicle.
In 1993, the supervisor wrote a book about the situation, “The Pentagon Wars,” and in 1998 HBO produced a movie of the same name based on his experiences starring Cary Elwes, who portrays Burton, and Kelsey Grammer.