Quiet achiever credits family for Australia Day honour

This article has photo gallery Published on LCDR Peter Croce (author), WO2 Neil Ruskin (photographer), CPL Mike McSweeney (photographer), CPL Matthew Bickerton (photographer)

Topic(s): Conspicuous Service Medal

Petty Officer Imagery Specialist Paul Berry in the Kush Kadir Valley, Afghanistan, in 2008. (photo: Sergeant Neil Ruskin)
Petty Officer Imagery Specialist Paul Berry in the Kush Kadir Valley, Afghanistan, in 2008.

Navy photographer Paul Berry says a Conspicuous Service Medal for a career devoted to photographing, filming and reporting on ADF operations is more about his family than his exceptional talents.

Petty Officer Berry, an Imagery Specialist posted to Canberra, was awarded the Conspicuous Service Medal for his leadership, commitment to task and accomplishments within his specialisation for both Navy and joint ADF postings during a period of high operational tempo.

The renowned quiet achiever said he felt privileged to be part of a tight-knit community of professionals but singled out his wife Simone for the majority of the praise after he spent the past decade bouncing between jobs in the Pacific, Asia, Europe and combat operations in the Middle East Region.

“I really have one of the best jobs in the ADF and to be the recipient of this honour is something I never dreamed of but feel humbled to receive,” Petty Officer Berry said.

“There is no way I could have ever have had these experiences without the sacrifice and support of my wife Simone, who has been incredibly supportive of my role while at the same time juggling her own career and raising our two children Mathilda and Lucas.

“Today I can acknowledge her marvellous support - I also express my pride to have served in the 1st Joint Public Affairs Unit (1JPAU) with Military Camera Team 1, who are absolute professionals at telling the ADF story and recording history.”

“I’m also grateful for the leadership and trust of the Officer Commanding 1JPAU, Major Dougie McGuire and the opportunities he gave our team.”

Petty Officer Berry’s recognition today reflects his standing as  one of very few Navy photographers who has deployed to the Middle East Region as a photographer, video specialist, team leader and military reporter after he spent a two-year posting with Defence Newspapers.

The former Glenorchy, Tasmania, resident joined the Navy in 1999 and transferred to the Navy’s photographic branch in 2004 seeking to foster his interest in photography.

“I always wanted to be a photographer and after two attempts at transferring, I was fortunate to be accepted on course – it’s been high-tempo since then. With my camera, I’ve been part of some of the incredible ADF actions that have made history.”

Former Officer Commanding 1JPAU, Major Dougie McGuire, who nominated Petty Officer Berry for the award, said he was an outstanding professional who could seamlessly perform across all ADF environments.

“Petty Officer Berry and the Royal Australian Navy should be proud of the standard set by Paul across all facets of his trade,” Major McGuire said.

“He unhesitatingly stepped up to a more demanding role as a team leader where he had to deal with complex operational and personnel challenges and did an outstanding job.”

“As his citation states, his imagery will leave an enduring legacy of Australia's military history during a period of exceptional operational tempo.

“His leadership, commitment to the task, and accomplishments within his specialisation are of the highest order and in keeping with the finest traditions of the Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Defence Force.”