Ret. Army Lt. Gen. Sidney Berry, a highly decorated combat veteran of two wars who led the U.S. Military Academy at West Point during a turbulent period of the mid-1970s that included a massive cheating scandal and the admission of women, died July 1 in Kennett Square, Pa. He was 87.
Berry, who had Parkinson's disease, died at a Quaker-run retirement home near Philadelphia, his son, Bryan Berry, said.
Berry spent more than three years in combat and, in time of war, led Army units as small as a platoon and as large as a brigade. He was wounded twice and was four times awarded the Silver Star. He served in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
His rise was swift and assured. In 1970, Life magazine profiled him under the headline "The Case Study of an Army Star," describing his near-certain future as Army chief of staff and noting his "air of exuberant self-confidence," born of his status as "warrior hero." His most difficult assignment, as he described it, began when he was nominated in 1974 to serve as the 50th superintendent of his alma mater.
Steeped in tradition and admired for its standards, West Point had, through the course of U.S. history, become known for the rigors and demands by which it shaped the future leaders of the Army and the nation.
Yet it seemed that not even so revered an institution could insulate itself from the currents of change that ran through the United States and its Army in the aftermath of the Vietnam War and the counterculture undercurrents of the 1960s.
If West Point was a pillar of the nation, one of the pillars of the academy was its honor code.
During Berry's term, the biggest cheating scandal in the academy's history erupted in March 1976, stemming from a take-home electrical-engineering exam.
"I've never been in more of a combat situation than I am now," the superintendent told Time.
Berry said he would do what was demanded of him, even if it meant removing the Class of 1977. Eventually, more than 150 cadets resigned or were expelled in the scandal, although 98 were subsequently reinstated.
Then, in the same year as the cheating scandal, the first class of women arrived. The plan had led him to contemplate resigning.
"It was rather adolescent on my part," he later said. "But I got over it and decided to do what a good soldier does -- get on with the job."