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Highlighting NV National Guard Ondra Berry’s journey

Published: Feb. 4, 2021 at 5:42 PM PST
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CARSON CITY, Nev. (KOLO) - From playing with small green soldiers to becoming the first Black man in Nevada’s history to be named general.

Ondra Berry, Nevada National Guard Major General serving as a role model for many generations that look like him, but he said the journey of getting to this position as a Black man was far from easy.

“We were in a situation wherein a store they used the N-word continuously, you are less than, why are you in here, who told you to come here,” said Berry.

Berry grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois where he got a taste of racism at a very early age. There was division all throughout his high school career, but Berry’s football coach gave him a piece of advice that allowed him to understand his purpose.

“He said, ‘this is your best weapon right here, this is what is going to get you through life,’ he says ‘they can take a lot of things from you but they can’t take your knowledge away from you,’” Berry explained.

Berry continued his leadership and training experience through many public and private sectors. This led him to a 25-year career in the Reno Police Department, retiring as Assistant Chief of Police.

“Being an athlete, the time of being a police officer, my first promotions, being in the military, the different experiences, the travel, taking classes, learning how to speak, all that in your toolbox prepares you for this moment,” Berry said.

Berry said this all got him ready for his finest hour when he became Major General of the Nevada National Guard on September 1, 2019.

He looked up to many leaders like Gen. Benjamin Davis Sr., the first African-American general in the U.S. Military.

“Position yourself, prepare yourself, and develop yourself to get in those organizations to sit on those boards, to run for those offices, that’s the single best thing we can do,” Berry stated.

During these times of racial unrest, Berry now carries the heavy load of his ancestors. He said every human being is under construction and they have unlimited potential.

“This is the time to develop and position and prepare yourself to do things that can really impact change in our society.”

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