Slain sailor's knowledge, skills lauded at Bahrain memorial service
Friends and co-workers at Naval Support Activity Bahrain gathered Thursday afternoon to remember a sailor whose computer knowledge was surpassed only by his humor and optimism.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Paul Berkley, 46, a Navy reservist assigned to Naval Forces Central Command’s Combined Forces Maritime Component Commander staff, was shot and killed in a Raleigh, N.C., city park while home on leave Dec. 18.
His wife, Monique, 26, has been arrested in his death, along with two 18-year-old men, one of which was believed to be her boyfriend.
But while officials investigate his death, about 85 of his co-workers gathered at the base chapel for the afternoon service. They remembered a man whose accomplishments, according to Petty Officer 1st Class Sean Hall, led them to nickname him “Prime Time,” a reference to NFL player Deion Sanders.
After the service many of them went to one of Berkley’s favorite eateries, Jim’s Restaurant, where they recalled stories ranging from early morning physical training in Kuwait to the time he fixed an admiral’s communications equipment problem with a Slinky.
“He was one of my shining stars,” said Hall, Berkley’s leading petty officer. “When something couldn’t be done, he’d come to the rescue.
“He could make anything and everything happen.”
Berkley worked as a network administrator and was also part of a team that helped plan and deploy a maritime computerized command and control network to various countries, including Kuwait, Pakistan, Oman and Egypt.
“If anybody knew anything about computers up and down, it was Berkley,” said Hall.
And, Hall added, he freely shared that knowledge with others.
“Even though he knew a lot, he’d come down to your level, and bring you up to his,” Hall said. “He put this division on another level. He had a lot of initiative.”
Berkley’s initiative earned him a Bluejacket of the Quarter award, which recognizes a command’s top junior enlisted member. “He was definitely going to win Bluejacket of the Year,” said Hall.
Hall said that Berkley was also recommended to be meritoriously advanced to petty officer 2nd class. “It was going to be his year,” said Hall.
And it wasn’t just those in Bahrain who recognized Berkley’s accomplishments. He, along with the command’s Lt. Cmdr. James Darenkamp, earned a Copernicus Award, which recognized 29 military and civilian personnel from the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard for their work on the maritime command and control network.
He is survived by his 18-year-old son, Ezekiel, and 16-year-old daughter Becky. Monique Berkley, who was his third wife, was being held without bail as of Friday morning along with 18-year-olds Andrew Canty and Latwon Johnson.
According to The Associated Press, Canty had been living with Monique since April 2005. Johnson, according to AP, is daughter Becky’s boyfriend.
The AP reported that Monique Berkley told police investigators she arranged the crime to get her husband’s insurance money.
Before his death, Berkley had been planning to return to Bahrain for another year.
Hall said he and his fellow sailors will miss Berkley’s optimism and sense of humor.
“He had something good to say about everybody,” Hall said. “He was the type of person who lived every day like it was his last, he was so full of life.”