Korean War Legacy Project

Charles Earnest Berry

Bio

Charles Earnest Berry served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. As a black soldier stationed in the southern part of the United States, he faced numerous challenges, including segregation, prejudice, and discrimination. Over time, the United States Army became integrated, and he was able to witness this significant change. In the Korean War, he fought in the Jangjin (Chosin) Reservoir, where he was captured and later managed to escape. He recounts the horrors of the battle and how the war impacted his views on life. For instance, he contemplated fighting for a country that would not let him sit where he wanted. He takes pride in having served in the US Army for twenty-two years.

Video Clips

Integration in the US Army

Charles Earnest Berry discusses his first experience with integration. He recalls the Sergeant instructing the men in his unit to pick their bunks in an integrated fashion. He noticed that Black soldiers selected bunks on one side of the room, while the White soldiers chose bunks on the opposite side. He remembers the Sergeant then forcing the unit to integrate by instructing Black and White soldiers to certain bunks near each other.

Tags: Basic training,Home front,Pride

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Arrested in Greenville, South Carolina

Charles Earnest Berry discusses an incident where he and other Black troops were arrested in Greenville, South Carolina. He recalls the treatment they experienced from local police officers and a Military Policeman (MP). He provides details about the charges that were brought against the MP for his treatment of the soldiers.

Tags: Basic training,Home front

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Experiences with Chinese Soldiers and Rethinking War

Charles Earnest Berry discusses fighting the Chinese and how quick and mobile they were since they carried less equipment than the American soldiers. He explains how the Chinese would put human waste on their bayonets to increase the chances of wounds becoming infectious. He recounts finding an entire National Guard unit dead and hauling dead bodies from the front. All of this made him rethink war. He shares that when his mom asked what he would like her to package and mail, he requested liquor instead of cookies.

Tags: 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir, 11/27-12/13,Jangjin,Chinese,Fear,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Letters,North Koreans,Physical destruction,Weapons

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Capture and Escape

Charles Earnest Berry discusses the severe cold weather in Korea and being captured at the Jangjin (Chosin) Reservoir. He describes how he was able to escape and safely return to American lines despite the challenging circumstances. He recalls the massive waves of Chinese soldiers and heavy artillery bombardments that he and his fellow soldiers endured during their time in Korea.

Tags: 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir, 11/27-12/13,Jangjin,Chinese,Cold winters,Fear,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,North Koreans,POW,Weapons

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The Role of Aircraft at the Jangjin (Chosin) Reservoir

Charles Earnest Berry remembers witnessing American aircraft attacking the Chinese and North Koreans. He saw pilots dipping their wings to American soldiers. He describes arriving at a bombed bridge and having to wait for the bridge to be airlifted, which rendered a loss of people and equipment during the wait. He describes how the USS Missouri firing on the enemy and how he was evacuated from Korea after being wounded.

Tags: 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir, 11/27-12/13,Jangjin,Chinese,Fear,Front lines,North Koreans,Personal Loss,Physical destruction,Weapons

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Lessons Learned from the Korean War

Charles Earnest Berry offers an overview of how the Korean war affected his beliefs on mortality, on people, and on coming back to the United States. He recalls the challenges he faced upon returning home, despite having fought for his country. He shares how being denied the ability to sit where he wanted back home made him question the purpose of his service.

Tags: Home front,Living conditions,Pride

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