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For Fred DeBerry, the enemy in Vietnam was really bad weather | A salute to veterans

Fred DeBerry - Tracey Compton/Renton Reporter
Fred DeBerry
— image credit: Tracey Compton/Renton Reporter

The Renton Reporter’s Tracey Compton interviewed four veterans, all members of the American Legion in Renton, to learn about their service to our country.

The interviews were conducted just before an American Legion open house at which legion members of the Fred Hancock Post 19 explained the many services and programs provided to veterans of America’s wars and their families.

Renton’s veterans are served by a number of organizations, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, with posts in downtown Renton and Skyway. And Renton has a new Veterans Affairs office that helps homeless veterans find a place to live.

Fred DeBerry served in the U.S. Navy as an aerographer's mate, second class, from 1964 to 1968, during the Vietnam War.

In this position as basically a weatherman, he was responsible for gathering weather information for all the amphibious landings.

DeBerry served on board the USS Eldorado and the USS Princeton.

"You don't send boats with men ashore if you've got great big waves," he said. "You can't land helicopters over there, if it's cloudy and raining so you can't even see. So, weather is kind of critical to that kind of warfare, very critical."

DeBarry enlisted in the Navy, thinking it would be more interesting and because he didn't want to be drafted into an Army position he wouldn't like.

"I'd never been on a ship; I thought that'd be fascinating," he said laughing. "Well, I got my wish."

Although DeBerry feels very patriotic today, he says, he had no concept of war when he entered the Navy.

"I had no background to understand it," he said. "And once I was in I think I certainly respected those who did a lot more than me. I respected those who had served in the past, certainly World War II and Korea."

DeBerry was serving with men who had served in those wars and stayed in the service.

After moving on from the Navy, DeBerry finished college and became a pastor for Calvary Baptist Church in the Highlands.

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