Jack Terrell

Jack Terrell is seen in this photo from one of his tours in the Vietnam War.

Two-time war veteran Jack Terrell bummed a ride and rose to captain in Marines

EDGEFIELD, La -- You probably know that tanks come with howitzers -- the big gun in front. But Jack Terrell went off in the Korean War with the Marines in a tank that also had something else -- some fire-breathing weaponry.

It was a flamethrower. Jack says the tank he drove carried 300 gallons of napalm in its belly to fire away.

"We'd go out and shoot in the bunkers and stuff and destroy areas with that. So it was very bad," Jack says.

After the Korean War came some years as a drill sergeant. Then Jack was back at war with two tours in Vietnam in the 1960's as an officer of maintenance, and then logistics. But he would also lead some patrols.

"You're surrounded every night by the enemy -- North Vietnamese, Viet Cong. Certain times, I'd take a squad out in the village and stuff, walk around at night, looking for things. And that's a scary time. When you don't know what's gonna be the next step or who's going to be out there shooting at you," Jack said.

Just before he turned 18, and before he'd finished school in Coushatta, Jack decided to join the Marines. Friends were his motivation.

"Everybody told me that you don't want to go in that you'll never make it. So I decided that's what I was going to do. So I hitchiked to Shreveport, down to the headquarters."

The enlisted man rose all the way to captain in 20 years, retiring in 1972. He thinks being a squared away Marine had something to do with that.

"That was a big deal in the service," he says.

He got noticed by the way he neatly and orderly displayed his clothes and equipment for inspection. The Marines took pictures and used it as a model others in a poster.

Jack followed these words as a Marine: "Be positive. Do a good job, and don't give anyone in trouble. Just make sure that what you do is right, and other people will see that."

After the Marines, Jack helped run a family oil business in Venezuela. Then he had a long stint with a major moving company, doing sales and management out of the Seattle area. Then he returned to Coushatta in 2009 to help take care of his mother.

Today, he serves as deputy mayor and alderman of the village of Edgefield.


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