Dave, as he was more commonly known, came to my attention when first assigned to the 40BS in the late fifties. Fresh out of navigation school as a 2nd Lieutenant, a young bright, clean cut looking chap, he joined us shortly after the 6BW converted from B-36 to B-52 aircraft. At the time of our meeting I was staff navigator in the 40BS. He was not too long a member of the unit before being reassigned elsewhere but left a deep favorable impression on me carrying through his transfer. Dave eventually wound up in reconnaissance aircraft during the Vietnam war, was shot down and imprisoned five years, two months. His internment included such camps as Hoa Lo, the Plantation, Dogpatch, Camp Faith, Son Tay, and the Hanoi Hilton. When I learned of his MIA status I began wearing a POW bracelet with his name etched in it. Following his liberation, c1973, I located his whereabouts and sought to turn the bracelet over to him. Deeply touched, he declined it nevertheless; with his approval I donated it to the March Field Museum for display in the Vietnam exhibit. Dave subsequently suffered the after effects of the brutal treatment he was given. The last couple of years of his life my corresponding with him was through his devoted wife Charlene. Dave could no longer walk, see except blurred images, control his eye movements, feed himself, or do any personal grooming. He wore diapers. Dave succumbed October 14, 2006 at a VA hospital in Georgia. Word came to me the very next day from Dave Carey, Captain, U.S. Navy, Retired, a flyer, who was confined in some of the camps as Dave Terrell. (Carey wrote a very interesting account of his experiences in the book How To Choose).
I want to share with the public something Dave Terrell wrote before his mind and body was cruelly attacked by PSP (Progressive Supranuclear Palsy). The following pronouncement should be prominently displayed in the WAFB Museum with Irby David Terrell’s name appended to it.
“During over five years in captivity, one idea has dominated my thinking: How fortunate I am to be an American! I have seen the other side. I have had every real and imagined fault of the United States of America pointed out to me time and time again by my captors. But, I have returned with a stronger conviction that although we are far from perfect, our system excels over any other on earth, and that our basic ideas and principles are honorable and just. I have faith that we will continue to work for a peaceful world and freedom while firmly resisting those who would enslave mankind.”
The epitaph of a patriot!
A very proud friend of Dave Terrell,