In Memory of
Army Sgt.
Wesley M. Berry
Kimball, South Dakota
Brule County
January 12, 1922-July 14, 1944
Killed in Plane Crash at Pyote, Texas

Wesley M. Berry

Wesley M. Berry was born on January 12, 1922 in the town of Wessington Springs in South Dakota. He was the son of George A. Berry and Nellie E. Berry. He had seven sisters and one brother. He moved to Kimball in 1928. He attended a public school in Kimball. For a few years before enlisting in the Army, he was working in various points in the west-at Globe, Arizona, and California. He also worked at San Diego, California.

When he first entered active service was November 16, 1942. Wesley was trained at Ft. Crook, Nebraska.  He first served at Levenworth, then at Miami Beach, and later at Amarilla, Texas. He received his wings, with honors on the June 30,1943.  He graduated in Harlingen Amy Air Field in November 16, 1943.

Wesley M. Berry died as a result of a crash of his B-17 Flying Fortress fifteen miles from the air base at Pyote, Texas.  The accident happened at 1:22 A.M. July 14, 1943. Six other men also died in the crash; four escaped without injury. Fifteen minutes of take off; that engine No. 2 caught on fire at an altitude of five thousand feet. Wesley was serving as an engineer and was stationed just back of the pilot; after unsuccessful effort to extinguish the flames, it was decided to make an emergency landing.  The crew could have easily have bailed out, but trying to save the ship, some of them lost their lives. Mr. and Mrs. Berry received a letter after Sgt. Berry’s death from Commanding Major Russell C. Reeves:      

Your son’s death at 1:35 AM July 14th came as a great sorrow to me and all of his comrades. The end came suddenly and without suffering.  You have the deepest sympathy of the officers and men of this organization in your sorrow. It may be of some comfort for you to know that Sergeant Berry was held in high regard by all members of the command. He was a splendid officer and of fine character.

Sgt. Wesley Berry was buried with full military honors at Kimball, South Dakota, July 21, 1943.  At the time of his death his parents, George and Nellie Berry, survived him and by his seven sisters and one brother.  They were Hannah (Tweed) Sebesta.  Nellie (Floyd) Sluka, Marble (Harlan) Zingler, Marie (Lester) Sebesta. Grace (Karl) Eckstien, Elva (Alvin) Lytle of Oakland, Iowa, Leora Bocker of Britton, South Dakota and Edward Berry of Globe, Arizona.

This entry was respectfully submitted by David Willrodt, 8th Grade language arts, Chamberlain Middle School, Chamberlain, South Dakota, April 19, 2002.  Information for this entry was taken from an article in Brule County News.