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Captain Joseph M. Berkson served as a senior combat adviser with South Viet- namese Rangers (Biet Dong Quan) during the North Vietnamese army offensive of 1972.
Captain Berkson was born in Chicago, Illinois on April 22, 1947. He was graduated with honors and was an award-winning ROTC cadet and Battalion Commander at the University of Illinois Chicago Circle Campus. He was commissioned in the regular Army and served with a tank group stationed in Germany. A graduate of the Army’s Ranger School, he completed the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) course for advisors before he was deployed to Vietnam on December 8, 1971.
Captain Berkson’s military decorations include the Silver Star Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal and Combat Infantry Badge, among many other decorations. On May 2, 1972, Captain Berkson was being airlifted from hostile activity when the UH-1H helicopter he was in was shot down by an SA 7 surface-to-air missile near Quang Tri City. The helicopter crashed into enemy-held territory and Captain Berkson was listed as missing in action. An Army Board of review in Vietnam studied evidence uncovered after allied forces retook the area and determined that Captain Berkson had been killed in the crash.
Captain Berkson was repatriated in July of 1972 and identified in May of 1973. Captain Berkson was 25 at the time of his death and is survived by his wife, Joan and daughter Lauren. He is never forgotten.