Berry Law

Captain Berry (right) receiving his Bronze Star at II Field Force.

Before he founded Berry Law Firm, John Berry Sr. served three tours in Vietnam, where he earned the Bronze Star.

During his service, John transferred from Infantry to the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps and worked as chief defense counsel for Vietnam’s largest general court martial jurisdiction.

John’s role took him throughout Vietnam, protecting the rights of GIs. His journeys included successfully defending members of the 5th Special Forces against murder charges.

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Goose Bumps and Cold Chills

This describes my emotional reaction to hearing the fate of my friend, Sol who died in captivity in Vietnam.

Goose Bumps and Cold Chills

I had a co-worker when I was stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, (GITMO) who was a Marine intelligence specialist. I was a Naval Intelligence Officer working in the same office. After we both moved on to new duty stations, I did not see Sol Godwin ever again, but I did come to know something of what happened to him.

In the summer of 1968 I was assigned to the staff of Commander Naval Forces Vietnam in Saigon. Shortly after arriving I met a young USMC Marine First Lieutenant. He was an intelligence specialist working in the same office as I was.

As we were getting acquainted, I mentioned that I had been in GITMO. He asked if I knew Sol Godwin. I said that I did and he said he knew Sol well. In fact, he had served with him in Hue in 1968. Then he told me how he saw Sol being captured by soldiers of the North Vietnamese army in Hue during the Tet Offensive. He did not know what had happened to Sol. He last saw him being led away by NVA soldiers.

Years later, after I had left Vietnam, I was a member of a naval intelligence reserve unit in Portland, Oregon. We were processing debriefing reports of POWs released from North Vietnam prisons in 1973. We were scanning the documents for information about what happened to men known to have been captured by the NVA and Viet Cong.

As I was reading, a familiar name almost jumped off the page I was reading. Warrant Officer, Solomon H. Godwin, USMC, died in captivity, according to other prisoners who were there. Suddenly, a chill ran up my spine and I got goose bumps. I got an cold sick feeling in my stomach. I could almost feel what Sol had gone through.

Many former prisoners have since told of the horrific torture they endured while “guests in the Hanoi Hilton” and other prison camps. My simulated capture and torture during my SERE (survival) training just prior to going to Vietnam gave me but a brief glimpse of what prisoners experienced at the hands of the NVA and Viet Cong when they were captured. I just thank God I was never captured.

Captain Herman W. Hughes, PhD

US Navy Retired

Vietnam 1968-1969