Memorial Dedicated To Honor Native Killed In Vietnam War

Memorial Dedicated To Honor Native Killed In Vietnam War

OCEAN CITY – Family, friends, government officials and veterans alike honored Barry Howard Berger, the only Ocean City native killed in action during the Vietnam War, at a memorial dedication at City Hall Thursday.

Berger, the son of prominent community members Al and Beatrice Berger, was killed in action in Vietnam after falling from the ropes of a helicopter.

On Jan. 10, 1971, Berger, an Army Ranger, was on a reconnaissance mission when his unit came under enemy fire. The helicopter deployed to extract the men through a series of ropes and harnesses lost altitude and Berger sustained fatal injuries from the fall. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and several other medals.

In a welcome home ceremony of sorts, the Vietnam Veterans of America-Ocean City Chapter 1091 unveiled a plaque in Berger’s honor, as well as a granite reflection bench – made from the same stone as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. – to commemorate all others killed in action.

The plaque and bench are displayed in front of City Hall, where Berger and his classmates attended what was once the elementary school and next to a memorial that honors six Ocean City men who lost their lives in World War II.

“Where would there be a better place to honor this citizen then right here where he attended school?” Mayor Rick Meehan shared with the crowd.

Chapter President Nelson Kelly presented the idea for a memorial to honor Berger and others killed in Vietnam at a Mayor and Council meeting in January.

Meehan told attendees that the plaque and bench will serve as a constant reminder to those who pass it on a daily basis.

“They didn’t get in all cases the respect and honor they deserved,” he said.

Michael Berger, nephew of the honoree, told the crowd that it was humbling to see his uncle recognized. Although he was never able to meet his uncle, Berger praised his heroism.

“He was the best of the best,” he said.

Childhood friends were also able to share memories of Berger. Although most remembered the fun times spent with him in school and around town, former schoolmate and friend Pat Parks said the memorial was a harsh reminder of the void Berger left.

“Here’s a man who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” Parks told the crowd. “It’s so long overdue.”

Although Kelly agreed that the honor was belated, he said the day still held great significance. Not only was it Maryland’s Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day, but it also marks the last day combat troops pulled out of Vietnam in 1973.

“Welcome home,” he said. “It’s a universal saying amongst Vietnam veterans.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

Alternative Text

Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.