Colonel William Berry, Executive Officer
Office of the USAREUR Commander in Chief (CINC)
When I was a Specialist in the Army and stationed in Heidelberg, I went to the bank on the post for a transaction. Before leaving the teller’s window, I counted the change she had given me and saw that she had short-changed me by $20.00. She insisted that she had given me the right change, but I knew she hadn’t. So rather than stand there and argue with her, I headed back to my office in a huff. Not one to give up when I know I am right, I sought help from Colonel William Berry. He was the Executive Officer to the four-star Commander-in-Chief (CINC) of USAREUR. Colonel Berry was an intelligent, no-nonsense officer, who ran the CINC’s office with diplomacy, tact, and a bit of wry humor in one hand and his proverbial whip in the other. He needed the whip to keep the straphangers (Those low-ranking officers vying for an audience with the CINC for no official reason at all) at bay. Like many others, I had a level of high respect for Colonel Berry. He was always fair but firm. I stood in the doorway to his office and he welcomed me in and told me to have a seat. I explained to him what had happened. He listened intently and told me to wait until just before closing time and he would go over there with me. He knew I had two daughters by myself and that as a single parent, $20 meant a lot to me. He also knew that I was a soldier who told the truth. I thanked him and returned to my desk in the outer office. I tried to get back to work, but being short-changed by that bank teller occupied the rest of my workday. When 4:10 rolled up, Colonel Berry came to my desk with his hat in his hand and told me, “Let’s go.” I grabbed my hat and followed him down the hallway and out the side door through the garden to a path which led us to the post. Approaching the bank, he opened the door for me and followed me in. The teller who had shortchanged me was still at her window, but Colonel Berry thought it would be best to consult with the bank manager on about this situation. After asking for the manager, she came out to greet us and led us to her office to listen to my situation. She said that the tellers are required to count their trays at the end of the day. She said that she would have the teller who did my transaction to tabulate her intake transactions for the day to see if there was any discrepancy. The bank manager listened intently, left her office briefly and returned to tell Colonel Berry and me that the teller, indeed, was $20 over the amount of what she should have taken in. She handed me my $20. I smiled and thanked her and so did Colonel Berry. As I left the bank with him, I could not have been more proud to serve with such an outstanding, upright, caring Army officer. I wanted to give him a big hug, but that was out of the question and would be unprofessional. As we walked back to the Keyes Building where we worked, I stopped for a moment. He turned around to look at me and I looked him in the eye and said to him with the utmost respect, “Thank you, Colonel Berry.” Smiling, he said, “You’re welcome.” And when I smiled back at him, he knew that was my big hug from me to him.