Russell Berkey was born on August 4, 1893, in Goshen, Indiana. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1912, and graduated with a commission as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy on June 3, 1916. His first assignment was aboard the battleship USS New York (BB-34) from June 1916 to October 1920, participating in World War I in the North Sea from December 1917 to November 1918. LT Berkey next served as Flag Secretary and Aide on the staff of the Commander Destroyer Force Pacific aboard the protected cruiser USS Charleston (C-22) from November 1920 to October 1921, followed by service aboard the destroyer USS Selfridge (DD-320) from October 1921 to June 1922. His next assignment was as an instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy from June 1922 to June 1923, and then as Flag Secretary and Aide on the staff of the Commander Battleship Division Four, Battle Fleet, aboard the battleship USS Arizona (BB-39) and USS New Mexico (BB-40) from June 1923 to November 1925. LCDR Berkey served aboard the light cruiser USS Concord (CL-10) from January 1926 to June 1927, and then served aboard the battleship USS West Virginia (BB-48) from September 1927 to June 1928. His next assignment was board the battleship USS California (BB-44) from June 1928 to May 1929, followed by service aboard the battleship USS Texas (BB-35) from May 1929 to September 1930. He served in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, D.C., from September 1930 to September 1932, and then served as commanding officer of the river gunboat USS Panay (PR-5) on the Yangtze River in China from January 1933 to July 1934. CDR Berkey next served aboard the destroyer USS Smith Thompson (DD-212) from July 1934 to February 1936, followed by service with the Fifth Naval District at Norfolk Navy Yard in Norfolk, Virginia, from February 1936 to June 1938. He attended Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, from June 1938 to May 1939, and then served as Commander Mobile Target Division ONE aboard the destroyer USS Dorsey (DD-117) from June 1939 to February 1941. His next assignment was as commanding officer of the ammunition cargo ship USS Lassen (AE-3) from February to September 1941, and then in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations from October to December 1941. He served as commanding officer of Naval Operating Base Iceland from December 1941 to September 1942, and then served as commanding officer of the light cruiser USS Santa Fe (CL-60) from her commissioning in November 1942 to December 1943. RADM Berkey commanded Cruiser Division 15 aboard the light cruiser USS Phoenix (CL-46) in the Pacific from December 1943 to July 1945, and then served as a legislative liaison in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations from July 1945 to August 1946. His next assignment was with the Navy Department from August 1946 to June 1947, and then as commander of U.S. Naval Base, New York, from June 1947 to February 1948. VADM Berkey served as Commander Support Group, Naval Forces Far East in Tokyo, Japan, from February to July 1948, and then as Commander Naval Forces Far East from July 1948 to August 1949. His next assignment was as Commander of U.S. 7th Fleet from August 1949 to April 1950, followed by service back as Commander Naval Forces Far East in Tokyo from April 1950 until his retirement from the Navy on September 1, 1950. Russell Berkey died on June 17, 1985, and his ashes were scattered at sea.
His Navy Cross Citation reads:
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Rear Admiral Russell Stanley Berkey, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Right Flank Commander, Allied Support Force, in action against enemy Japanese forces at Surigao Strait during the Battle for Leyte Gulf in the Philippine Islands on the night of 24 - 25 October 1944. On board the U.S.S. PHOENIX (CL-46), Rear Admiral Berkey led his ships against the enemy battle-line in a conspicuously heroic manner. By his courage and determination he gave encouragement to his force in a manner that caused his action to be largely instrumental in the success of a most difficult operation. This successful attack contributed in large measure to eliminating an imminent and dangerous threat to our transports and other ships in Leyte Gulf. Rear Admiral Berkey's high professional skill, forceful leadership, and gallant devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.