William Leneave Berkley was born on May 26, 1902, in Red Banks, Mississippi, son of L.S. and Susie C. Berkley, both now deceased. He received his early education from Webb Preparatory School, Bell Buckle Tennessee, and Vanderbilt University at Nashville, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1926. He subsequently attended Vanderbilt School of Medicine and was graduated with the degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1929. Entering the Medical Corps of the Navy as Lieutenant (jg) on June 29, 1929, he ultimately attained the rank of Captain to date from August 1, 1943.
After a period of internship in 1929-1930, at the US Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, Virginia, he served for a year at the Navy Yard there as Assistant Medical Officer. In 1931 he had duty with the Navy Rifle Team at the Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, and Camp Perry, Ohio. For three years thereafter he served in various ships and stations in the Asiatic Theater, including USS Panay, and with the 4th Marines at Shanghai, China. From 1934 until 1936 he had postgraduate work first at the University of Vienna, later at the Navy Medical School, Washington, DC. He remained in Washington for a year, as Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat and Assistant Attending Physician to the 75th Congress.
Following a postgraduate course in Oplthamology at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, he served from 1938 to 1940 as Assistant Medical Officer of the US Naval Station at Tutuila, American Samoa. Later in 1940 he became Chief of the Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Department of the Naval Hospital, Bremerton, Washington, where he served until December 1941.
On December 4, 1941 he joined USS U. S. Grant as Ship’s Medical Officer, and continued in that capacity through the first eighteen months of World War II. He reported in July 1943 to the Naval Base, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, for duty as Medical Officer on the staff of the Commander, Forward Area. He was detached in February 1944 and in March reported to the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery for duty in the Planning Division (War) and as Liaison to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, until after the cessation of hostilities.
On October 24, 1945 he was ordered to the US Naval Hospital, St. Albans, New York, as Chief of the Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Department, to report in November. He was ordered detached in September 1940, and after brief indoctrination in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, reported in December 1949, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for duty with the US Naval Mission there.
Captain Berkley is entitled to the American Defense Service Medal; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; the American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.
He died February 2, 1993.