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Auburn journalism professor emeritus Burnett dead at 86

AUBURN (AP) — Auburn University journalism professor emeritus Paul C. "Cliff" Burnett died from illness Friday at an Opelika hospital. He was 86.

A native of Marshall, Texas, Burnett joined the faculty in 1948 and over the next 31 years until his retirement, he grew the journalism program from one instructor and single classroom to a separate department. Many of his more than 7,200 students went on to careers in journalism, politics and business.

Burnett began his career at the Marshall High School Parrot in Texas and later wrote for The Marshall News-Messenger.

He attended Texas A&M University and the American University in Stockholm, and graduated from Louisiana Tech and Louisiana State University, working during those years for six community newspapers while editing the Louisiana Tech newspaper.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, he joined the Army Air Corps in 1942 and became a decorated B-17 navigator.

Based in England, he filmed combat footage for Oscar-winning director William Wyler's 1942 documentary, The Memphis Belle. That same year over France, Burnett's plane, Chief Sly, took repeated hits from German aircraft.

Though seriously wounded, he guided the crippled bomber without charts or radio over the English Channel to a safe landing in England, according to an obituary provided by his son, Jay Burnett of Jacksonville, Fla.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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