YUMA, Ariz. – Seventy years ago this week marked the end of World War II as the Allied forces defeated Japan, Italy and Nazi Germany known as the Axis. Local Navy veteran George Berryman joined the effort at the impressionable age of 17. “You’re looking at a 17 year old kid. He is not going to make one hell of a difference in the war effort. But there were hundreds of us,” said Berryman.
Berryman wasn’t deployed overseas to fight the war, but instead serves as a hospital corpsman, tending to the wounded paraplegic soldiers returning home, unable to walk. As he fights through the tears, Berryman recalls the light-hearted moments in the ward that kept them going.
Tough and tender memories for Berryman, who unlike the 60 million men that died during the six-year war was able to watch America rejoice as the end of the war was made official September 2, 1945.
Berryman said, “They were elated, they were so pleased, so happy, I’ve never seen so many people celebrating at one time in my life. Everybody was in the streets and singing and doing one thing or another. Drinking of course.”
Berryman grew from a teen to a man during WWII, crediting the navy. “I went from playing ‘hookey’ in school to and dodging school to realizing that would no longer go, the navy taught me that 20 minutes flat. Maybe a little less,” he said.