He was born March 23, 1926 in Cedartown, the son of the late Earl Mountain and Sanders Pearl Witcher Berry.
Mr. Berry’s first job was working in the field picking cotton. At age 9 he began helping his father in a market and restaurant as a dishwasher. He attended Brewster Elementary School and Cedartown High School.
Mr. Berry was a golf caddy on Wednesday afternoons and weekends for 25 cents a round of 9 holes. He could go to the show for 10 cents, get a hamburger and Coke for 10 cents, and a bag of candy for 5 cents and have a pretty nice outing. He later got a job catching curb at the country club and made good tips for the times.
Mr. Berry joined the Navy a few months before he was 18. He was proud of his service and often told stories of his adventures. He was inducted in Fort McPherson in Atlanta and was sent to Great Lakes, Ill. for boot camp with about 40 other people from Polk County.
He caught the mumps up there and lost his company. He went to Jacksonville Naval Air Station.
Later as he was going on liberty, he heard a message over the loud speaker saying anybody wanting to go to Atlanta Naval Station should report some place on base. He ran most of the way over there and they only chose four people out of thousands. He stayed in Atlanta for about 9 months and was home every weekend but two while there.
He was shipped out to Camp Peary near Williamsburg, Va. and assigned to the Seabees. He went across country on the northern route to Port Hueneme, Calif. where he shipped out on a merchant ship and stopped in the Marshall Islands, which is where the atomic bomb was tested.
From there he went to Tokyo Bay. They docked at Yokahama to unload supplies. From Yokahama they went to Yokosheiki, Japan. He was assigned to the light cruiser Wilkes Barre which had a crew of 1,100 and was a “Man of War”.
From Tokyo Bay they went to Korea. No one had heard of Korea in 1945. From there they headed to the Yellow Sea and anchored at Taku Bay for a pretty good while. They would get liberty there and get aboard landing craft ships. They would go up the river about 50 miles to Tensien China. It was far enough from their ship that they had to spend the night and it was a bustling place.
From Taku Bay they went to Tsugtao, China and anchored there for about a month. It was more modern there. The rickshaws were hooked up to bicycles. Tensein had mostly people pulling you in rickshaws. There were some Russians there whom they got to know.
From there, they went to Chenwangtao, China. It was really cold there with lots of ice and snow. They did not get liberty there because it was too dangerous. Jack had experience driving a Jeep and when the officers found out they gave Jack the job of driving them to homes of Americans and other friendly people that the Government knew. It wasn’t a very good job because it was so cold.
After leaving China, they headed home. They stopped at Pearl Harbor for one night and two days to take on supplies. It was about 25 days from China to Pearl Harbor. They were anchored very close to the beach, but he didn’t get to go to the beach. They left Pearl Harbor for home.
They pulled into San Pedro and Long Beach, Calif. They anchored close to the Missouri, the ship the surrender of Japan was signed on. The sailors went on liberty in Los Angeles. The ship was about to head to Philadelphia through the Panama Canal, but Jack opted to go by train over the southern route to Jacksonville, Fla. where he would be discharged.
Three of the sailors including Mr. Berry hired a taxi to take them from Jacksonville to Atlanta. From there he got on a bus for Cedartown and was happy to be home.
Mr. Berry married Opal Geneva Parris on March 17, 1956. They had two sons – Jackie and Randy. He opened a convenience store in the 1960s and worked there until he retired in 1983.
In 2006 he joined Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Rockmart, where he was baptized by the Rev. Roger Parris and was a member of the Board of Trustees. He and his wife Geneva became very dedicated Christians and church members.
Mr. Berry is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, Mrs. Opal Geneva Parris Berry; sons and daughter-in-laws, Jackie Berry and Leesa Berry of Powder Springs, Ga. and Randy Berry and Lydell Berry of Newnan, and grandchildren, Grant Berry, Emily Bodiford, Madison Bodiford, Joe Berry, Cam Berry and Jack Berry.
He was preceded in death by his parents; four brothers, Bill Berry, Bud Berry, Larry Berry and Robert Berry and two sisters, Ruby Jo McCain and Mary Ann Nichter.
The funeral arrangements were conducted at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1 in the Gammage Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Bobby Wood and Rev. Roger Parris.
Interment followed in the Pine Bower Cemetery.
The family of Mr. Berry is accepting flowers; however, donations can be made to Pleasant Hill Baptist Church Building Fund, c/o Vickie Siegers, 1125 Pleasant Hill Road, Rockmart, GA 30153.
Condolences can be sent to the family by visiting gammagefh.com to sign the online guestbook.
The Olin L. Gammage and Sons Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.