Vernon E “Copy” Berg, III { 1951 – 1999 }

USNA ’74

Copy Berg was born in 7 July, 1951 in Port Jefferson, New York. He was called ‘Copy’ because he was so like his father, Commander Vernon E. Berg Jr., a Navy chaplain.

Copy Berg '74 Informal Lucky Bag
Copy Berg ’74 Informal Lucky Bag

At Annapolis, his creativity was intensely prolific, there were few in the Brigade who did not come to know Copy as a unique Midshipman who possessed talents unlike any other Midshipman. The entry in his 1974 Lucky Bag read as follows:

Tripping a light fantastic across stage and screen Copy Berg has been seen everywhere since his arrival except his own company area and the academic classroom. His name appears on the Log, the new Drag’s Handbook, art and printing club posters, several T-shirts, various Beat Army buttons, several Christmas Dinner programs, and centerfolds of Paint and Powder ’71 (which he swears is not a self-portrait) and What's a Nice Girl Like you Doing in a Place Like This? Anywhere you do not see the name Copy Berg, you can probably hear it, singing in the chapel choir, touring with the glee club, whirling across the stage in a masqueraders’ musical comedy or speaking before anyone who will listen in English or French. So, how does he get away with all this? Just ask him and he'll tell you. “It’s not that a dancing bear dances well, it is that a dancing bear dances at all. And it’s not that a Midshipman can draw, write or sing well, it is that a Midshipman can draw, write or sing at all!” USNA isn't faced with that kinda thing very often.
Vernon E “Copy” Berg, III USNA ’74
Vernon E “Copy” Berg, III USNA ’74

After graduation from the Naval Academy, Copy reported to his first ship the USS LITTLE ROCK (CLG 4), the Flagship for the U. S. Navy Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean home ported in Gaeta, Italy. It was as an Ensign ashore in Gaeta that Copy met an enlisted crew member who eventually turned Copy in for being a homosexual.

Rather than hide the shame of discharge, Copy courageously fought back. VADM William P Mack, who had been Superintendent of the Naval Academy Copy’s second and first class years, testified on Copy’s behalf. His case was very public through the trial and appeal proceedings. Copy was able to overturn his “Under Conditions Other than Honorable Discharge” that he and been given. It is because of Copy Berg that the Department of Defense permanently revised the policy of giving other than Honorable Discharges to homosexuals.

After departing the U.S. Navy, Copy moved to New York and earned a master’s degree in design from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. He died in Manhattan on Wednesday January 27, 1999 from complications of AIDS.

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