Freedom Fighters: Col. Gid Terry - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Freedom Fighters: Col. Gid Terry

(KLTV) -

When Gid Terry went into the air force from his college ROTC program in 1955, he never planned on making a career of it. 

"I was going into the Air Force for three years, become a pilot.  I was then going to fly for the Airlines," he said.

But somewhere along the way, life, war, and the love of the air force got in the way. In 1966 and 1967, during the Vietnam War, Terry flew a "gooneybird" which is slang for the Caribou, transporting people, machinery, food and animals. He even flew in a small elephant once for use by local villagers.

"I suppose I flew maybe ten to twenty sorties a day."

The sorties were all counted as combat missions since there were usually small arms fire from the ground.?

"I guess I got maybe 15 or 20 hits in the airplane," he recalled.

Terry said there were many different types of new experiences in Vietnam. One of his most memorable experiences was landing at night to rescue children out of their burning school.

"The North Vietnamese had set fire on their building, the school, and we were evacuating them out of the fire. I carried 54 people on board that airplane which would ordinarily carry 27 people."

During his thirty years in the air force, Terry flew every type of aircraft available.

"I'll start with the B-57 which is a very good airplane. Not many people know about it. It's an English airplane," he said.

It was a fighter-bomber manned by a pilot and co-pilot.

"It carried an atom bomb plus all other armaments."

Perhaps the most exciting plane Terry flew operated during the Cold War: the SR 71.

"The SR stands for strategic reconnaissance aircraft," he said."The fastest in the world."

The plane was so fast, it was D plus 3, or three times the speed of sound.

"Fastest I flew that airplane was 2,107 miles per hour, very very fast," he said.

As a U2 type plane, the SR 71 also flew very high. 

"At 85,000 feet, you're very close to the sun," he said.

Colonel Gid Terry retired from the air force in 1985, and while he never did carry out those plans to fly airliners, he says he wouldn't change a thing.

"Greatest thing I ever did and will ever do again, to fly for the U.S. Air Force and be proud of it," Terry said.

Copyright 2016 KLTV. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly