At home in Oregon after serving a tour of duty in Iraq, Ralph Berry spends as much time as he can with his two sons.
“I’m a family man. I love the outdoors and like to take them out whenever I can,” says Berry, an Army sergeant who was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor while serving in Iraq.
The medal sits in a closet and Berry says he rarely thinks about it.
“I’d give it back in a minute if it meant some people would not be shot or injured. I don’t even look at it,” he said. “I was just doing my job. I was in the wrong place at the right time.”
The medal certificate praises Berry for his actions during a battle in which he faced “concentrated and high volume of enemy fire” to provide covering fire that prevented his position from being over run and allowed for the evacuation and treatment of his wounded battalion commander.
The medal was presented by then Major General Raymond T. Odierno, who assumed command of U.S. forces in Iraq in September, 2008, following his assignment as the commanding general of Army III Corps from May, 2006 to September, 2008.
Berry will be taking part in another ceremony this weekend.
At the invitation of organizers of the Oregon and Jerusalem Township Memorial Day observance, he will be reading names of local veterans who’ve fallen in the line of duty.
“It will be my first time attending the service,” Berry said. “It’s going to be very emotional. It’s an honor to be invited to participate.”
A bell will toll as the names of Oregon servicemen who lost their lives in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam are read.
The service will be held May 30 at 1 p.m. at the stadium at Clay High School.
Last year, about 300 people attended the observance, which included the unveiling of a memorial to honor those who fought in the Korean War.
Former Oregon Mayor James Haley, a veteran of the war and member of VFW Post 9816, and Ed Placko, commander of the Christ Dunberger American Legion Post 537 and a veteran of the war, unveiled the memorial.
Jerry Eversman, an organizer of the memorial service, said organizations scheduled to participate in this year’s ceremony include Post 9816 and Post 537, American Legion Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 35, Lou Diamond Detachment Marine Corps League, Patriot Guard Riders, and active and reserve members of the branches of the armed forces and National Guard.
Berry, a graduate of St. Francis deSales High School, may not be home during next year’s ceremony. The Army has already notified him he’s scheduled for another tour of duty within a year. He’s not been told where he will be sent.