EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - Ray Terry had always wanted to fly, but when he joined the air corps as a seventeen-year-old, in October of 1942, he got more than he had bargained for.
He was a belly gunner. As a belly gunner, Terry manned a machine gun from a small turret in the belly of a liberator B-24 bomber.
Ironically, Terry was taking photographs from the cabin of the plane when they were attacked by German planes on his very first mission.
"Had just started on a bomb run and there were six enemy fighters hit us from the rear," Terry said. He was wounded in the left leg by a twenty-millimeter shell.
"We should have been gone because it just blew us. You can see the picture there with all the holes in it. Gas was pouring out of our wings and we couldn't afford to fire at him," said Terry.
By some miracle, Terry's plane made it back to its base in England. "The landing gear on the right side was shot away and we landed on two wheels," said Terry.
Although the plane broke apart on landing, the crew all survived. "I said Lord, if you'll get me on the ground, I'll never get off again," Terry recalled.
It was a promise Terry wouldn't be able to keep until the end of thirty more missions.
"The plane got hit almost every mission," Terry said. But fortunately, He escaped without further harm.
"On my 21st mission, we went to Germany and five enemy fighters hit us. I was able to shoot one of them down," recalled Terry.
Ray Terry was honorably discharged from the air corps in September of 1945.
"I have the distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart, the Air Medal with six oak leaf clusters..that's six air medals," said Terry.
Terry jokes that there's one more medal, the good conduct medal, that's still in dispute, but many of Terry's memories are no joking matter.
"I saw all that horrible stuff, people burning up in planes. It made an impression on me," he said.
Such an impression that Terry didn't talk about it for years. "I never did talk about it for 25 years. I didn't even tell my family," Terry said.
In spite of the horror he witnesses in World War II, Ray Terry says he wouldn't take anything for the experience.
"I'm proud of it,"Terry said.