Late Chuck Berg was a double Purple Heart recipient; wounded twice in Vietnam

Military veterans are never far from our minds in the greater Pelican Rapids area. 

Memorial Day observances are always well attended in Pelican, and this year’s program is a 10 a.m. in the Pelican Rapids High School Auditorium, May 29.

The Red River Valley Veterans Band performed its annual concert in Pelican Rapids two weeks ago. And, last week, veterans returned from the Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.—including several from the Pelican area. (Story in this edition of the Press.) 

The late Chuck Berg, left, died last week. The Vietnam veteran’s experiences in Southeast Asia were recorded in a Minnesota Historical Society interview. He is pictured here with his siblings, Doug, LaVonne, and Mike, following a Memorial Day program at the Pelican Rapids VFW.

Sadly, we learned last week of the loss of another area veteran; Charles “Chuck” Berg, who has the uncommon distinction of being a “double Purple Heart” recipient. Berg, who died last week, was wounded—twice—in Vietnam., thus a pair of Purple Hearts. 

A 1967 graduate of Pelican Rapid High School, Berg participated in the “Veterans Oral History” project. From what we hear from those close to Berg, he said very little about his Vietnam experiences—so the transcribed 2013 Berg interview is a special bit of preserved history. 

The interviewer asked Berg about his two Purple Hearts: 

“The first one was we found a cache of weapons along a trail in the jungle, and it was our platoon that found them, so we were told that we were able to keep the weapons. We dug them out of the ground. We cleaned and polished them all that night. 

Well, apparently, the North Vietnamese Army were also in the same area, and they knew that we had them, so they mortared us that night…I was struck in the upper part of the leg. I crawled over to the foxhole, and the foxhole was plumb full of people. I lay there on the side of the ground, and another mortar round landed just on the other side of the foxhole and covered us all with dirt. Then we crawled over and got our mortars and started shooting them back…finally, the rounds stopped firing. Our platoon sergeant was also killed that day, Sergeant James Hilliard.”

Berg described the firefight and casualties as “devastating…You don’t have the words to explain it. You’re young.”

His second Purple Heart followed his post being overrun, when he caught a piece of shrapnel in the shoulder.

After both incidents, he was transported to Tay Ninh to recover, but he was reassigned—somewhat further from combat zones. “It wasn’t so jungle-like, but it was still scary.”

His Army service totaled two years. “Zero date” was departure, which the commanders were never very precise. “One day, we were just getting resupplied … the captain called and said, “Berg, get on the plane, you’re out of here.” Your heart, just went, “Boom.” Here I am, I’m going home, finally! It was kind of an unrealistic thing until, … one minute you’re laying in the jungle getting shot at, and the next minute you’re sitting at home.”

His fiance met him at the airport, with brothers Doug and Mike. They married that Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day.

Chuck lived virtually his entire adult life in Pelican, mostly in the carpet cleaning business. 

Long-time Pelican residents will remember the Berg family, including sister LaVonne. Parents were Norman and Inez Berg. Norm worked at the Pelican Creamery for 45 years. 

Chuck Berg’s final comment in the interview session is perhaps the most appropriate, in the wake of his death. He was asked, “how would you like to be remembered?”

“As a faithful husband, a good father– devoted to my country– friendly– and smiley.”

Read More: Charles “Chuck” Berg Obituary