MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Sergeant Jamean Berry’s faith has always been his main drive throughout his life.
Berry grew up volunteering and helping others along with his family. His devotion to service lead him to join the Marine Corps as a combat photographer, he felt it was God’s way of helping him pursue his passion for selfless service.
Berry, who is assigned to the the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, continues to volunteer regularly at his church and strives to help anyone in need. In this interview, he tells us why he volunteers and why selfless service is important to him.
Q: What inspired you to join the Marine Corps?
A: God inspired me to join the Marine Corps. At the time, I had just gotten married and had a kid on the way. I was being a bartender, not making a lot of money, not doing a lot with my life. I simply asked God, “What do you want me to do with my life? Because this isn’t it.” And six years later, here I am.
Q: Why did you choose to be a combat photographer?
A: Combat camera kind of fell into my lap. It was another God thing. My recruiter was a combat photographer and when I came in I had no idea what it was, and had never heard of it. He just said, “Boy do I have a job for you. Check this out.” I looked at it, I love photography, so it was a dream come true.
Q: What does your job entail?
A: Here at the 15th MEU I have a unique job. Other units’ combat camera is made of three different sections; photo, video and graphics. Each section has five to ten different people in it, depending on the unit. But here at the MEU it’s just me; photo, video and graphics. So I had to step outside my [military occupational specialty] to take this job.
Q: How do you like your job?
A: I love my job. Every day I get to work with graphics, video, photo; do what I love to do. There’s pros and cons to every job but really, I love what I do. I can’t get enough of it.
Q: How important is combat camera to the MEU’s overall mission?
A: We are the commander’s eyes on the ground. Here, we take care of the admin functions like [isolated personnel report] photos and promotion photos. If there’s something that needs to be documented, like retirements, we do that. We also do training missions such as Exercise Iron Fist and Exercise Aqua Terra. We give the commander real-time feedback on what’s going right and what’s going wrong. On ship, we can send images and video back to the commander of what’s going on and how we’re doing so he can get real-time progress reports.
Q: How did you get started volunteering?
A: I first got into volunteering as a kid. Growing up, my mom always had me in soup kitchens feeding the homeless, doing that kind of thing. But the homeless, usually with those kinds of things, only get fed once or twice a year when everyone wants to do their outreach. But she made me do it about once a month. I’ve always loved helping people out and that just progressed through the years.
Q: What do you do to volunteer?
A: Every other week at my church I help out with children’s ministry, teaching kids. I help out with some summer camps as a camp counselor and I also teach some of the kids about photography and videography.
Q: What inspires you to keep volunteering?
A: I’d say it’s my heart for service. I feel that God led me to the Marine Corps because it’s the number one service you can do for America. I love to help other people, it’s what makes me happy. If someone’s in need, like if there’s someone on the side of the road, I will stop and help them. It’s what I love to do, it’s in my nature. I just keep on going because it’s in my DNA, I guess.
Q: What is your definition of selfless service?
A: Selfless service is one of those tricky things. As for Marines, we all raised our hands and joined. We are all giving selfless service. We didn’t join to get a paycheck or get a big pat on the back. We just joined to help someone. Whether it be for someone you know that fell, or help out the American populace, or just defend your country or stand up for an ideal. We all joined for a selfless reason. As long as you’re doing something for someone else and not expecting anything in return, then there you go, that’s selfless service.
Q: Why is selfless service important?
A: I feel that it’s your true measure as an individual. Your heart and your character kind of circulate around selfless service. If you’re willing to give of yourself willingly and help out your fellow man, that builds true character. John 15:13 – “Greater love has no one than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.” That is the embodiment of selfless service. Whether you know it or not, as a Marine, it’s also our doctrine. That’s why it all ties together and God has put me here.
Q: What award were you nominated for?
A: Recently, I was nominated for the “volunteer service member of the year award” for Camp Pendleton. I didn’t win, unfortunately, but it was an honor just to be nominated. The important thing is that my leadership felt that I had volunteered enough to be. I was very humbled and didn’t think I really deserved it. I was just doing what I love to do.
Watch Berry’s Warrior Wednesday video at http://youtu.be/IyVoI6iEc4w.