Born in Owensboro on July 13, 1915, Berry graduated from Owensboro High School and the University of Kentucky. Following his graduation in 1938, he was an engineer at Seagram’s Distillery in Louisville. While visiting Washington in 1939 he decided to enlist. When he couldn’t find a parking place in front of the Army War Department he parked in front of the Navy building, launching his career.
As an ensign, Berry won the Navy Cross, the Navy’s highest decoration for valor, 3 times, a distinction shared (as of March 1944) by only a dozen men. He was also awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.
Berry won his wings as a Naval Aviator at Pensacola, Florida, and was sent to Hawaii in 1940. He was stationed on the USS Yorktown at Pearl Harbor, at sea during the Japanese attack. He flew in the first US offensive action of WW2, the raid on the Gilbert and Marshall Islands, and the attack on Tulagi Harbor.
He won his first Navy Cross for action in the battle of Coral Sea, his second Navy Cross for pounding the Japanese invasion fleet in the Battle of Midway, and his third Navy Cross for action in New Guinea.
Upon his return to the states in 1942 he served as a dive bomber instructor at Jacksonville, Fl until Sept. 1944. He was reassigned to the Pacific theater in November.
Additionally, Berry earned three posthumous Distinguished Flying Crosses (DFC) in his career. The first DFC was earned as the squadron commander in operations against the Japanese fleet during the Battle of Kure in 1945. The second was a result of action against the Japanese fleet in the East China Sea. After Berry led his squadron in 20 strikes in a one-month period he was awarded his third Distinguished Flying Cross.
On May 13, 1945, while serving as Pilot and Commanding Officer of Bombing Squadron 83 embarked from the USS Essex, LCDR Berry’s aircraft was shot down. He was declared Missing in Action and remains so to this day. He left behind his wife Jacqueline, and an infant daughter, Linda Jo, whom he never met. During his overseas assignments, his family lived in Bowling Green to be with his sisters Martha Render Berry and Mary Render Berry.
Berry’s legacy lives in his family, present and deceased, including his daughter Linda, and his (deceased) sisters Martha and Mary. Sister Martha was the wife of Charles Garvin, owner of Beech Bend Park. Their children are Kathy Garvin Hunt, Martha Deputy (deceased), and David Garvin (deceased). LCDR Berry’s sister Mary Render Berry was married to Jack Donnelly. Their children include Frances “Toots” Hardiman, John Donnelly, Berry Donnelly, Tad Donnelly, Hermance Donnelly, and David Donnelly.