Early after the US entered the war, Cpl. Burdell was stationed at Camp Benning (GA). He detected, pursued, and single-handedly killed two German spies when he caught them in the act of attempting to place bombs in the Base Commander's quarters. (The press called them the BVD Bombers because of where the bombs were being placed.)
Later, Sergeant Burdell was responsible for tracking down Bolsheviks who attempted to assasinate the U.S. Ambassador to Russia.
Burdell's most infamous war story involved pursuing a dog who had infiltrated Fort Gordon. The dog was believed to be carrying messages for spies. Chasing the dog through a screen door into an officer's house on base, Master Sgt. Burdell burst into the bedroom to find a Captain's wife sitting nude in front of a mirror, staring at the dog, which was poised to spring. Catching sight of Burdell, the woman screamed, at which the dog reversed its flight and ran between Burdell's legs for the door again. Burdell, unsure of what to do, threw the woman a perfect salute and continued the chase. The dog fled into the path of an oncoming Sears truck and was killed instantly.