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MGYSGT John Vernon “Coogie” Berg

MGYSGT John Vernon “Coogie” Berg

Marinette, Marinette County, Wisconsin, USA
Death 30 Oct 1968 (aged 48)
Burial Kinston, Lenoir County, North Carolina, USA
Plot Garden of Cherry Lot # 32, Space # 1
Memorial ID 17309767 · View Source
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US Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant John Vernon Berg, WWII Veteran, Korean War Veteran, Vietnam Veteran, resident of Kinston, NC.

US Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant John Vernon Berg was a member of the Marine Corps. MGYS Berg served our country until October 30th, 1968 in Quang Tri, South Vietnam. He was 48 years old and was married. It was reported that John died from artillery fire. His body was recovered. MGYS Berg is on panel 40W, line 056 of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. He served our country for 28 years.

A decorated Korean War and Vietnam Veteran, The Marine Corps League, Detachment 257, Kinston, NC is named in his honor.

MARINE CORPS LEAGUE NAMED IN HONOR OF MARINETTE MAN: JOHN VERNON BERG KILLED IN VIETNAM: The late Master Gunnery Sergeant, John V. Berg, 48, a native of Marinette, was honored in Mid-January when a newly organized chapter of the Marine Corps League was named after him. The Chapter, located in Lenoir County, North Carolina, is to be known as the John V Berg Chapter and is open to all Marines. Berg lived in Kinston which is in Lenoir County, with his family after leaving Marinette. Before he was killed by a shell that struck his unit during an enemy artillery attack on Dong Ha, Quang Tri province, Vietnam, on October 30, 1968, he had served in military theaters in almost every part of the world, and was the most decorated Marines in Vietnam.

Berg, whose nickname was "Coogie", was a Paramarine during the early 40's. This was a rugged branch of Marine service. The Paramarine jumped from the plane at a rate of two men per second, his descent was timed so that he reached the ground in 10-15 seconds, then he was completely on his own. Unlike the Army Parachutist, who acted as a spearhead for the Airborne Infantry Division, the Marine had to strike at the rear of enemy defenses. Each man carried enough equipment for one hour of combat, other materials and ammunition were parachuted down to him in special containers.

While serving in the Solomon Islands, in the early 1940's, Berg was wounded in the shoulder. He said in a letter to his parents: "I was up on the hill about two hours after I was wounded before getting medical attention. I could not fire a rifle and my machine gun was burned out but I took a hand grenade with my left hand until we were relieved". His Father, Mr Berg Sr, said that once a paramarine is wounded, he can no longer serve in that branch of the Corps. Young Berg saw service at Guadacanal in World War II and in the Korean Conflict from 1950 to 1953. In was in August 1952 that his commanding officer recommended Berg for promotion from Technical Sergeant to Master Sergeant. In the recommendation, the officer referred to Berg as "conscientious, courageous and reliable, with a marked facility for attacking with Vigor and enthusiasm any problem he is confronted with". He particularly noted Berg's "willingness to expose himself to sniper fire when necessary to order bring up ammunition supplies to forward units and to help in the evacuation of wounded personnel and act as a forward observer for units…His utter disregard for enemy fire served as an inspiration to all".

Decorated with the Silver Star and Two Purple Hearts, plus other commendations for his service, the highest Honor paid was the Bronze Star Medal which was awarded to Berg, posthumously. The Commendation accompanying the Medal reads: "Master Gunnery Sergeant's Initiative, superior professionalism and steadfast devotion to duty throughout, earned the respect and admiration of all who served with him". His death came five months after assignment in Vietnam. Lt General H.W.Buse, Jr, Commanding General of the Fleet Marine Force in the Pacific stated that Berg "fearlessly exposed himself to the heavy volume of fire in order to assist a fellow Marine in a covered position". Berg was the Operations chief of the Division S-3. "When an artillery attack came from North of the DMZ, he was working in the G-3. The men took cover in the prepared shelters near their working space, but the portion of the trench where Berg took cover received a direct hit and he was killed instantly".

The Marine was born in Marinette on August 5, 1920, the Son of Mr and Mrs

John Berg, 1520 Ludington Street, Marinette. He was a member of the former Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, and graduated from Our Lady of Lourdes High School(now Marinette Catholic Central High School), with the class of 1940. His Father explained that following his graduation, young Berg decided to enlist in the Marine Corps when he was unable to find immediate employment. He was accepted immediately and at time of his death, had been in the Corps for 28 years, He had planned to complete 30 years service and retire.

He is survived by his Wife, Mrs Louise Southland Berg of Kinston, N.C. and their four children, Michael who is a student at a Greensboro, NC college, Mrs D. K. McMahan of Long Island Island, NY and Melody and Kelly both of the home; two Grandchildren and a brother, Donald Berg of Oakland, Oregon. His body was interred in Kinston. In a letter to Mr and Mrs Berg, written a few days after their Son, John's death, Col Paul LaFord, deputy chief of staff said of him: John was one of the finest men I have ever known. His long and faithful service, his total devotion to duty and his singular determination to do every job well were qualities that all of us respected. In addition, his wry sense of humor made many of our days over here more pleasant. We will miss him sorely and share deeply in your sorrow.

I worked for MGySgt Berg at Dong Ha. My name is Gary Lee Prince, I was a Corporal and admin chief for the 3rd Marine Division G-3. Top Berg was the Operations NCO and my boss. I really respected his professionalism and his devotion to our mission with the 3rd Mar Div in Vietnam. He had a great sense of humor and was truly a Marine Hero. He was awarded the Silver Star for his service in Korea. I had just rotated back to the states 2 weeks before MGySgt Berg became a casualty at Dong Ha. He was one hell of a man and I wont ever forget him. Semper Fi Top, Rest in Peace. Cpl Gary L Prince, PO Box 222, Greenview, CA 96037.

To a Marine's Marine: I was one of "Top's" admin clerks. I was in the same trench as "Top" Berg on the day he was killed, along with his old friend "Top" Graham. I was perhaps only 30 yards away. Although this tragedy happened many, many years ago, I can remember it like it was yesterday the terror of the rocket rounds, the fear and the sounds & sights of the blasts. "Top" Berg you were indeed a "top notch" Marine and not only my boss, but my friend. You treated all of us well and you'll always be remembered. Jim Remijan,

Just a couple of brief comments about my association with "Top." I was a 19 year old wet nosed kid when I arrived "in country" in late Jan. '68, only a few days before the infamous TET offensive. I didn't know my ass from a hole in the ground, but I sure learned quick how to dive into those holes or trenches and fill sandbags over and over again. "Top" Berg didn't arrive until, say, May of that year (can't remember exactly). But, because I had gone to college for a while he thought initially that I was smart ass college boy. But I think he soon grew to respect what I had learned and could do. He, of course, didn't have to earn a bit of respect from me. He had it right from the get-go. As time went on, because of my efforts, he even permitted me to fly via chopper down to Phu Bai a couple of times, which was about 100 miles south from Dong Ha in order to visit a college friend of mine for a day each. He didn't have to allow that, but that just shows you what kind of a heart that man had. The ultimate display of his concern for his men came on the morning that he was killed. A few days before the end of Oct., Pres. Lyndon Johnson called for a bombing halt on the north (N. Vietnam). We sensed that we would get nailed, and we did. On the morning of Oct. 30th the rocket rounds were coming in on us like rain. (Some obits say "Top" was killed by artillery. Not so, it was a friggin' rocket). Anyway, I was in the same trench with him, only a quarter of a football field away perhaps. Whenever you heard the rounds being discharged from their shoots, you'd count 1, 2, 3, etc. If the round did not go over by 7, it meant that it would either land short or on top of you. The word I received was that "Tops" Berg and Graham (they were Old Corps buddies from WWII) were STANDING up in that trench checking to see if any of us were injured. The round that killed them both literally hit right next to their heads at the edge of the trench. Neither of those two gallant men ever knew what hit them. Ironic part of it all was and is the fact that neither of those two fine Marines needed to be in Nam at all because they both had over 20 years in the Corps. I asked "Top" one day why he was there when he didn't have to be. He replied with a snarl something to the effect, "Because its my duty or job, boy." I could go on with funny stories, but we'll just leave it alone for now. God Bless You and May You Rest In Peace, MGySgt. John Vernon Berg. Take care, Jim Remijan,

I was near when he got hit. I did not know him personally as I had little contact as a Cpl, but I recall when he got hit along with the Division SGM Graham. I was nearby in the P.I. shop and he got hit near the mess hall. I remember the memorial service at the helo pad. Frank Ryder, 646 47th St, NW Canton, Ohio 44709,

Mrs John V Berg of 915 Rosanne Drive was notified Wednesday night of the death of her husband Master Gunnery Sergeant John Vernon Berg, 48, in Quang Tri Province, in Vietnam Wednesday, October 30. Details of of Gunnery Sgt Berg's death was that a rocket shell had exploded near a mess hall. He had been in Vietnam since June and was a Veteran of 29 years in the US Marine Corps. Survivors include his wife, the former Louise Southerland of Kinston, and four children; Michael Anthony of the home; three daughters; Mrs D.K.McMahon of Marsh Field, Mass, Melody and Kelly of the home; two grandsons; his parents, Mr and Mrs John Berg of Marinette, Wisconsin; one brother, Donald Berg, also of Marinette, Wisconsin. Military grave site rites will be held at Pinelawn Memorial Park at 2pm Sunday. The body is at Garner's Funeral Home.

There is a barracks at Cherry Point Marine Air Station named in his honor. Barracks 4169.

He was the Husband of Mrs Margaret Louise Sullivan Berg of 917 Rosanne Drive, Kinston, NC; Father of Michael, Melody and Kelley Berg and son of Mr John F. Berg and Gertrude K. Berg of Marinette, Wisconsin.

He served as the First Sergeant of Headquarters Company, Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, 3rd Marine Amphibious Force, USARV.

Some of his awards and decorations were: The Silver Star Medal, The Purple Heart Medal and One Gold Star for his combat related wounds, The Presidential Unit Citation with Two Gold Stars, The Navy Unit Commendation, The American Defense Service Medal, Euro-Middle-East-Africa Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with 3 Gold Stars, The American Campaign Medal, The World War II Victory Medal, The Navy Occupation Service Medal, The National Defense Service Medal with One Gold Star, The Korean Service Medal with Three Gold Stars, The Vietnam Service Medal, The Korean Presidential Unit Citation, The Republic of Vietnam Campaign Service Medal, The United Nations Service Medal and The Good Conduct Medal(s).

Family Members





  • Created by: Tom Reece
  • Added: 5 Jan 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 17309767
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for MGYSGT John Vernon “Coogie” Berg (5 Aug 1920–30 Oct 1968), Find A Grave Memorial no. 17309767, citing Pinelawn Memorial Park, Kinston, Lenoir County, North Carolina, USA ; Maintained by Tom Reece (contributor 46857744) .