Pen mightier in army

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:37 AM ET

Doug Berry thought for sure he was off to the Vietnam War.

The year was 1968, and a 19-year-old Berry received a letter from the U.S. government. He had been drafted into the U.S. Army at the height of the Vietnam conflict.

Berry reported to basic training and quickly made his way up the ranks, which made him believe even more that the army would want to use his services overseas.

That's when his path into battle took an unexpected turn. His orders required him to go to -- clerk school?

"So I said, 'OK, they need clerks in Vietnam,'" the Winnipeg Blue Bombers new head coach said yesterday. "So I learned how to type, and I was typing 60 words a minute in four weeks, because all you do for eight hours a day is (type) a-s-a-s-a."

It got even more perplexing. The army sent him to Indianapolis to attend finance school.

"People could not enlist to get into finance school, and I'm getting it as a draftee," Berry said yesterday, shaking his head at the memory.

He continued to excel while at finance school, and he became a specialist fifth class, or sergeant. He was then shipped off to Germany for a year and a half to do audits for the army.

"It was unbelievable," Berry said. "It was good experience. It came to me when I was 19.

"When I needed some maturity in my life, they sure provided it for me."

After his two-year stint ended, he returned to the U.S., finished school and eventually embarked on a 23-year career as an assistant football coach at several American universities.

Berry, however, won't be running his first Bomber training camp like boot camp.

"I'm not a military-type guy, but I've been there, and I know it," he said. "I know the discipline, and that's what players have to have.

"I'm kind of like a Don Matthews in that aspect. I want the peer pressure to take more command than management pressure."


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