Friday, November 9, 2012

Corporal Charles J. Berry Remembered

Charles Berry
I had a special request from Kennel V. Hillyer, a Lorain native who is currently serving in the United States Marine Corps to do a post on Lorain native Corporal Charles J. Berry, for whom the Charles Berry Bascule Bridge is named. Since Veterans Day is this Sunday, this seems like a good time to do it.

The story of Corporal Berry's heroism at Iwo Jima is well known in Lorain. Here is the account, straight from the Medal of Honor certificate presented posthumously by President Harry Truman.

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Member of a Machine-gun Crew, serving with the First Battalion, Twenty-sixth Marines, Fifth Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the seizure of Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, on 3 March 1945. Stationed in the front lines, Corporal Berry manned his weapon with alert readiness as he maintained a constant vigil with other members of his gun crew during the hazardous night hours. When infiltrating Japanese soldiers launched a surprised attack shortly after midnight in an attempt to overrun his position, he engaged in a pitched hand grenade duel, returning the dangerous weapons with prompt and deadly accuracy until an enemy grenade landed in the foxhole. Determined to save his comrades, he unhesitatingly chose to sacrifice himself and immediately dived on the deadly missile, absorbing the shattering violence of the exploding charge in his own body and protecting the others from serious injury. Stouthearted and indomitable, Corporal Berry fearlessly yielded his own life that his fellow Marines might carry on the relentless battle against a ruthless enemy and his superb valor and unfaltering devotion to duty in the face of certain death reflect the highest credit upon himself and upon the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country."

Charles J. Berry is re-interred at Elmwood Cemetery – April 12, 1948
(Photo by William Ashbolt)
Here is a link to Charles J. Berry's Wiki entry.

He was originally buried in the 5th Marine Division Cemetery on Iwo Jima. In 1948, he was re-interred in Elmwood Cemetery in Lorain.

On Veterans Day 1988 the Erie Avenue Bridge was renamed the Charles Berry Bridge.

Special thanks to Kennel V. Hillyer for suggesting a blog post on Corporal Berry, and for his current service to our country as a member of the United States Marine Corps.


Don't forget that the dedication of the Eric Barnes' Heroes Walk takes place this Sunday, Veterans Day, November 11 at 10:50 am down at Oberlin Avenue and First Street.

The memorial walkway connects Settlers Watch and the Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King Tribute Site.

Come on out and honor four servicemen born in Lorain who, like Charles J. Berry, gave their all for their country: Marine Lance Corporal David R. Hall, Marine Lance Corporal Joseph "Ryan" Giese, Army Sergeant Louis R. Torres and Army First Sergeant Bruce E. Horner.


Paula said...

Hi Dan,

Wonderful post in honor of a true hero...


Dan Brady said...

And next week.. the story of the Men of Company H!

-Alan D Hopewell said...

Don't forget Lofton Henderson, who flew his shot-up plane down the smokestack of a Japanese aircraft carrier during the Battle of Midway.

Dan Brady said...

You're right, Alan. I didn't mean to overlook Lofton Henderson, who was also in the US Marines ( a Major), was born in Lorain, died for his country during World War II--and has a bridge named after him. I will certainly do a similar post on him as soon as I can. (I don't always coordinate things very well on this blog.)

Lisa said...

Great post, Dan! I did not know the story of Charles Berry. I don't recall learning about him in school, but I'm sure Jack Yaneris mentioned him at some point during the Lorain history unit in middle school social studies.

Drew Penfield said...

I'm certainly glad these men are being remembered and honored, but here's to hoping that we'll have less need for war memorials in the future.