NEWS | Aug. 30, 2021

Bloomington Soldier Retires after 34 Years of Military Service

After more than 34 years of military service, including 31 years in the Illinois Army National Guard, Sgt. 1st Class Charles Berry, of Bloomington, Illinois, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 44th Chemical Battalion, retired in a brief ceremony Aug. 27 at the Normal Readiness Center, Normal, Illinois.

Berry enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1987, serving on active duty as a cannon crewman in New Jersey and Germany, before enlisting in the Illinois Army National Guard in 1990. In the past 31 years, Berry has served in 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery Regiment and the 1244th Transportation Company, based in North Riverside, Illinois, before transferring to the 44th Chemical Battalion in Normal.

"I'm not big on accolades," Berry told friends and family gathered for his retirement luncheon. "I do what I need to do to take care of Soldiers. It's been a crazy ride."

Berry said his plan in 1987 was to finish his enlistment and get out.

"Life intervened and here I am, 34 years later," he said.

Soldiers who served with Berry describe him as someone with a wealth of knowledge who takes care of his Soldiers.

"I've only served with Sgt. 1st Class Berry for about two years," said Maj. Lance Frail, of Sherman, Illinois, the 44th Chemical Battalion's Officer in Charge. "But I learned a lot in those two years."

The unit's first sergeant, 1st Sgt. Zachary MacGrath, of Hudson, Illinois, said Berry's retirement is a huge loss for the Illinois Army National Guard.

"The Illinois National Guard is losing a huge asset with Sgt. 1st Class Berry's retirement," said MacGrath. "I've seen him come in as early as 4 a.m. and even travel across the state to help Soldiers."

Berry deployed overseas on multiple deployments, including to Iraq with the 1244th Transportation Company from 2010-2011.

Berry was presented with a Meritorious Service Medal in recognition of his 34 years of service and loyalty to the Illinois Army National Guard.