Fallen ranger remembered with memorial at City HallOcean City’s sole casualty of Vietnam War died on mission to rescue POWs
(April 7, 2017) It was a chilly day on March 30, yet it was hard to ignore the blazing sunshine that appeared throughout the memorial dedication to Barry Berger.
Berger was the only Ocean City resident killed in Vietnam during the war and his sacrifice was memorialized with a plaque and granite reflection bench outside of City Hall, which is fittingly where the fallen Army Ranger attended elementary school.
After deciding to put his educational pursuits at American University on hold to enlist, Berger graduated Army Ranger School with top honors and was deployed to Vietnam.
A few months later, on Jan. 10, 1971, Berger was on a night mission to help save prisoners of war when the lines of his helicopter became entangled in a tree and he fell.
He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and several other Army commendation medals.
Family, friends, Ocean City residents, veterans and politicians came out to pay tribute to the war hero on Maryland’s Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. It also commemorated the last day combat troops pulled out of the Southeast Asian country in 1973.
Veteran Pat Parks was teary-eyed as he explained how guilty he felt facing his friend’s parents, Al and Beatrice Berger, coming home as a Vietnam survivor.
Another friend, Bob Conner, reminisced on memories from high school before informing the crowd how Parks was severely injured in Vietnam and narrowly escaped his own Ocean City dedication ceremony.
His nephew, Michael Berger, told the crowd he was honored to be in attendance and commended his uncle’s heroism.
“He was the best of the best,” Berger said. “I wish I would have known him, but knowing his story, I am immensely proud.”
Nelson Kelly, Vietnam Veterans of America Ocean City Chapter 1091 president, presented the idea for a memorial plaque and bench, which is made from the same granite as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., to the council in January.