Honoring Our Veterans by Telling Their Stories, World War II Veteran and Pastor, Edgar Terrell, Shares His Wartime Experiences

Honoring Our Veterans by telling their stories. Especially with the recent advent of Veteran’s Day, we want to show how appreciative we are of the incredible sacrifice they made to make our freedoms possible. Today, we are interviewing World War II Veteran and Pastor, Edgar Terrell. This veteran traveled in a covered wagon with his family, joined the Navy, weathered two three-day hurricanes, and went on to deal with German torpedoes and radio controlled bombs. Tune in today to hear the rest of Veteran Edgar Terrell’s incredible story!

Air Date: 11/13/2017


Guests: Edgar Terrell, David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast.  However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.

Faith And The Culture

Rick:

Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture, this is WallBuilders Live. Thanks for joining us today. We’ve got a special program so we’re going to dive right in.

Last weekend was Veterans Day and we had the chance to share one of these veterans stories, World War II veteran stories, with you on Friday.  We’ve got another one today, and what an honor to have Edgar Terrell with us.

David and Tim are going to have a chance to visit with him and share his story with our listeners. What a great time to honor those who sacrificed so much for our freedom. David, Tim, introduce us to Mr. Terrell.

World War II Veteran Edgar Terrell

David:

We have Edgar Terrell with us. And we always love getting to hear from veterans, particularly folks who have done so much for the rest of us. And we got one of those heroes today. Mr. Terrell, thanks for being with us, brother, we appreciate it.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

It’s my joy and my privilege.

David:

Now I got to ask.  Where did you grow up? Where was home for you?

Terrell Traveled By Covered Wagon From Oklahoma to Arkansas

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Well, I discovered America in Oklahoma between Dalton and Altus in 1922. I was living out in the country. And we left there when I was still a baby. We loaded everything that we had, my mother and dad, in the covered wagon. And we went from that covered wagon, from Oklahoma to Arkansas. And then I ended up in Lamar County later on and some years, I remember that. We lived in the east of Paris, 14 miles east, out in the country.

David:

Yup.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

And I stayed there until I believe 15 years of age. In 1936, we moved to Cowtown.  I mean Fort Worth.

David:

Now, alright.  See- you got me going here. That’s like Dwight Eisenhower. Dwight Eisenhower was born in Texas.  But he grew up in Kansas. But he wanted to go into the Navy.

And I never figured out how a Kansas boy wanted in the Navy.  But now you’re telling me you came from Texas. How in the world did you get the Navy? I mean there’s- we don’t even know what water is in Texas, hardly. How did you get in the Navy?

Terrell Ended Up In the Navy in 1942

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Well, I was 20 years of age and had registered.  This is back in 1942. And I got a draft card.  And personally, no reflection on any branch of service, but I didn’t want to have a foxhole to sleep in. I knew that as long I was in the Navy, I’d have and aboard a ship.  I’d have a dry place.

David:

There you go. That’s a good reason. That works. So, well thank you for doing that. Thanks for getting involved and taking that branch and going with it. So from the time that you got in, where’d you go for training? Where’d they send you?

Edgar Terrell Went Through Boot Camp In Only Four Weeks

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Well, I was sworn in in Dallas, Texas on September the 21st, 1942. And I went to Great Lakes, Illinois for my boot training. And ordinarily, back before the war, the boot camp was 12 weeks. They ran us through in four weeks.

David:

Wow. Is that just because they were needing sailors that fast?

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

They were running- yes. Yes, they wanted to get me on the battlefield I guess.

David:

Wow. So four weeks of camp? Wow.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Yes, and then eventually, I came back and was stationed for a short time at Norfolk, Virginia, at the Naval Air Station. And then we made it down to Orange, Texas. And I went aboard Destroyer Escort, DE- 137, the Herbert C. Jones.

And we went to Bermuda for our shakedown cruise. It was a new ship and a green crew. And while I was there, on the shakedown cruise, we had the unfortune of going through two, three-day hurricanes. And I tell you that was a-

On His Shakedown Cruise Terrell Weathered Two Three-Day Hurricanes

David:

Wait a minute, on the same shakedown cruise, you had two hurricanes?

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Yeah.

David:

Oh, wow.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Two hurricanes while we were on the shakedown cruise, yes.

David:

Wow.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

And we had to ride them out. Course, they ran us out of the harbor at Bermuda. But we had to ride them out, in a small ship. And I was standing wheel watch some. I was in the wheelhouse. And that ship not only had to ride the waves up and down, but it would roll that ship.

And while I was- had a hold of the wheel, I was steering it you know, a helmsman.  It rolled and it jerked me loose. I went over and hit the bulkhead on the starboard side, and as it came back I got a hold of the wheel again.

David:

Wow.

Cured of My Seasickness

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

That was quite an experience. And after these two hurricanes, I was cured of my seasickness.

David:

I bet you were.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

I had no more sicknesses as for being at sea.

David:

So you’re getting shook around for six days. That’s got to be a rough voyage. And I know you end up in battle later. Was there any comparison between going through hurricanes and going through combat?

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Well, yes, there was quite a bit of difference.

David:

Was there a lot, yeah? Man, as a young, green guy going through that, so-

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

One thing about it, that during that three days, the cooks in the mess hall couldn’t do any cooking, you know. And so we ate cold cuts for the rest of the time.

David:

Wow. So once you get that shakedown voyage done, where did they send you next? Where’d you go?

Terrell’s Captain: “If We Are Not Involved In Action, Our Mission Will Be a Failure.”

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

We ended up going to the Mediterranean with my sister ship, the one just like the one that we was on- the Destroy. And we were headed to the Mediterranean. Course, we were headed east.  I- we didn’t know where we was going. But the captain got on the public address system, and he made an announcement. And he didn’t tell us where we were going, but he said, “One thing about it, if we don’t find action- we are not involved in action, our mission will be a failure.”

David:

Wow. Wow. So you head for the Mediterranean. And at that point, is that still pretty well controlled by the Germans? Or did the Americans have control of the Mediterranean by then?

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Well, the Germans were in- still in Italy. You know we go in, and you. *********** And then more Sicily. Now we docked at some of those, anchored at some of those old harbors on the way. We were doing escort duty. See, we were the mouth of the Mediterranean.  The troop ships would come in.

The Germans Had Radio Controlled Bombs

And what the Germans was doing, they had a radio-controlled flying bomb.  They were directing those- looked like a small fighter flying around up there in the air. They directed right to those troop ships that had several thousand troops on them. And they were sinking some of them.

We had special gear, our sister ship and the one that I was on. There was no other ship that had those. That’s the reason we went over to the Mediterranean.

And the Germans directed them, as I said. But we couldn’t take control of them, but we could jam their gear. You know, where they controlled the thing. And then the plane, or the bomb, would go in a different direction from the troop ship.

David:

There were only two of the ships that had the gear that you guys had, and that’s what would-

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Yeah.

David:

Get those things off course. Wow.

Terrell’s Ship Had Special Equipment That Could Jam Those Bombs

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Yeah. Before we left, we went to Washington, D.C., and they installed that special equipment. And we had a man come aboard the ship that knew how- could speak German and also knew how to run the jamming gear.

David:

That’s interesting. I remember that those rockets, I think they were V-1, V-2. But actually, the German guy who had helped invent those, actually switched over to the American side- Wernher von Braun, as I remember his name. And actually became an American in that thing, somewhere in that vicinity. That’s interesting that you guys were having to fight the stuff that he had created way back then. That’s something.

The Germans Also Used Torpedo Planes

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Well we had torpedo, they had- the Germans had torpedo planes.  So we’d always go to our battle stations just 30 minutes before sundown, something like that. We were there and these torpedo planes would come in. One evening late, I was the first loader on a 3H-50 gun.

There’s one- one of those airplanes came in, torpedo plane, and dropped his torpedo. And then he went across our bow and turned up. I could see the trunk stickers on his wing.

David:

Wow. Wow.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

And 3H-50 is the projector in the shell altogether.  My job was- I put it in the gun, closed the breach, and the man pulled the trigger.  It hit him right in the middle.

David:

Wow.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Of is belly.

David:

Wow.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

And shot him down. And I think our ship, or another ship, picked up maybe at least one of the survivors on that.

The Torpedo Was Headed Right Towards Us

David:

What happened to the torpedo he dropped? Did it hit?

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Well, it missed us.

David:

Wow.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

It missed us. There was another time I looked out and saw them drop that torpedo. And I know what happened in the wheelhouse. The captain, he ordered a left full rudder of engine room, all engine’s full speed. And so they switched the fantail of the ship around. Then the torpedo went off our stern.

David:

Wow.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

It was headed right towards us.

David:

Wow. So you’re fighting, not only the German radio-controlled planes, you’re fighting torpedo planes as well?

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Oh, yeah. Uh huh.

David:

What else did they throw at you?

The Germans Even Bombed Hospital Ships at Anzio

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Well, where we ended up, Anzio.  It’s up north of Rome, Naples and then in, then Rome and then- I don’t know just how far we were up the coast. At Anzio, and had the invasion there. And it was supposed to be about three days to meet the troops, that were invading. And troops coming up from Rome were supposed to meet in three days.

Well, five months later we were still at the beachhead. It was nothing more than a beachhead.

David:

Wow.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

In the harbor there, we had two hospital ships. They were all lit up with red crosses and everything. And course, the rule was they were not supposed to bomb them. But they sunk one of those. And some of the survivors got off, got on the other. They got them on there and they bombed it, but they didn’t sink it. But that was one of things they did.

And the Germans have a gun, back up in the hills, that they were shooting down into the harbor where the ships were. The crews were still going aboard you know, more on the shore rather. And I got a picture of the barrel of that gun.  It’s laying on the two flat railroad cars.

David:

Oh wow.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Just now- just is the barrel. I don’t know how big the gun was.

David:

But the barrel was two full railway cars long. Wow.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Yeah, I got a picture of it.

David:

Wow.

I have a book that I call my “Navy Book” and got a lot of pictures and things.

“We Were Laying a Smokescreen So They Couldn’t See the Troop Ships”

David:

Man. Now I heard that there was a time when you were actually being chased, and planes were trying to bomb you guys. Is that right? You put out a smoke screen?

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Oh yeah, that was there in Anzio. Yes. Those German planes would drop about six bombs. So we were laying a smokescreen so they couldn’t see the troop ships or the LSDs that was there. So we was lying that smoke screen.

Well this, the planes kept following us and dropping these bombs. And fortunately, they wasn’t hitting the ship. But on the starboard side, the port side you know, and they finally realized it was the smoke.  They were following that smoke screen.

And so they cut that off and they lost us you know. And the anchor’s all over with, the ship was still. We stopped moving, fortunately. And the captain comes on the P.A. system and said, “We are three miles inside where the bombs are.” They’re under the water you know.

David:

Oh, the mines, yeah. The mines.

Terrell And His Ship Were Three Miles Into A Mine Field, But By the Grace of God They Made It Out

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

And he says “We’re three miles in there,” and says, “We’re going to try to get out.” But by the grace of the Lord, we got out of that three miles without any trouble.

David:

A three-mile minefield, I mean how big were the minefields? Did they go for miles like that all the time?

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Well, I don’t know how big they were. I knew what they would do because, mine sweep was in the same harbor. It was a smaller ship than the one that I was on. They hit one of those mines, and immediately the ship started sinking.

David:

Wow.

“I Knew What Those Bombs Would Do”

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

It was a smaller ship. The stern of it went down and when it hit the bottom, it’s close enough to the shore that it hit bottom. And several feet of that bow was sticking up. Anybody under, beneath the upper deck didn’t have an opportunity to get out. No way they could.

And it was sticking up.  They left it sticking up. And I knew what those bombs would do when that captain says, “We going to try to get out.”

David:

Wow.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Fortunately, by the grace of God we did.

David:

Yup, grace of God is exactly right. Boy, I’m glad He got you out.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Amen.

Terrell Would Want Kids to Know That He Was a Survivor By the Grace of God

David:

That’s good stuff. So we’re at a point in time in American history now, where kids just don’t know history. They don’t get hardly anything about World War II. They wouldn’t even know what the Battle of Anzio was at all. You look back over at what you did at that period of time, and man we appreciate it.

If you had a chance to talk to your grandkids or kid, what would you tell them looking backward? What would you want them to know of what you did?

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Well, that I was a survivor by the grace of God.

David:

There you go.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

I was three years in the Navy. And I was discharged on the 31st of October 1945. Seventy years ago-

David:

Wow.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

I was discharged. But I also came back to the States, after being in the Mediterranean a year. And I went aboard an Army Transport Cargo ship. I went to pass it through Mississippi and I was stationed in Providence, Rhode Island for a little while.

Back at the U.S., Terrell Was Assigned To An Army Transport Cargo Ship

And they assigned me to an Army Transport Cargo ship. We even carried big trucks and a lot of cargo.  And we could handle at least 3,000 troops on that. We went through the Panama Canal on April the 20th, 1945. It took us all day long.

You know, you have to go into locks and…  Anyway, we got through and made a beeline for Honolulu. And I kind of laugh about that we suffered three or four days in Honolulu.

David:

Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. You’re suffering for the Lord there, exactly. Got to Honolulu. That’s right.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

And then we end up going to Guam, Saipan, Anawhata, the Philippines, Okinawa, and, you ended up in Yokohama, Japan. That was after the peace had been declared. And we picked up 3,000 troops that had been over there a good while. You know they had signed a peace treaty and everything. We loaded up those 3,000 troops and headed back to the United States.

Terrell Was Discharged October 31, 1945

We went to San Francisco and there was a big crowd there to welcome that ship in. And fortunately, I had enough points. They discharged me by points.  I had enough points to be discharged. And so I ended up on a troop ship to Norman, Oklahoma. My folks had moved to Oklahoma out of Fort Worth while I was in the Navy. And I was discharged the 31st of October 1945.

David:

Wow.

“I’m Enjoying Life, Heaven’s My Home, But I’m Enjoying the Trip”

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

And so the Lord been good to me. And I’ve had a good life since then. I’m enjoying life.  Heaven’s my home, but I’m enjoying the trip.

David:

There you go. That’s great. So are you living down in Dallas, Fort Worth area now?

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

No. I’m 93, and so I sold my home in Lancaster which is south of Harris County.

David:

Yeah.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Sold my home there about two months ago. And fortunately, my daughter, Sandra, and her husband Benny, they built a new house out here and they called it the corporal room.

David:

That is great.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

So I live in the suite here. They are providing a, well, they’re taking care of me. I’ll put it that way.

Those Cargo Ships Were Able to Handle at Least 3,000 Troops

David:

I tell you, you’ve got some real story. And I live out west of Fort Worth Dallas.  In the little town I live in- got 220 people when we moved in here. And I listen to you talking about a ship with 3,000 guys on it.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

That was beside the ship crew.

David:

Alright, so beside the ship crew. I mean, that’s 20 times the size of my whole town. I just can’t even imagine a ship that size. That’s huge!

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Well, you know I don’t know where your interest is in that. You know you’ve heard this story that a sailor has a girl at every port?

David:

Yes, sir.

Terrell Was Married For 58 Years

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Well, I married and one of them. From lower Mass., which is the suburbs of Boston. We got married.  They saying it wouldn’t last. But it lasted 58 years.

David:

I think they were wrong if they said it wasn’t going to last.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

You know, I been preaching 69 years ago this year.

David:

Have you really?

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Yeah.

David:

Preaching for 69 years? Really.

Preaching For 69 Years

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

I quit high school before I went in the Navy, and I’ve been out of the high school for a good while. It was out at North Fort Worth Diamond Hill. Anyway, I got back and the Lord called me to preach. Well, I needed to go back to high school. I went back to the same school, Diamond Hill.

David:

Did you really?

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

High school there in Northeast 28th Street, in Fort Worth. And I graduated in May of 1947. Then I went to Baylor University.

David:

And from Baylor is that where you learned to preach and got called into the ministry?

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

I learned to preach by preaching.

David:

There you go. That’s it. That’s it.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

The Lord has been good. And most of that 69 years, I have served as a pastor.

David:

That’s terrific.

“The Lord Has Been Good to Me and Blessed Me”

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

And the Lord has been good to me and blessed me.

David:

That’s good. 69 years. So you served your country and then you serve God on top of that.  Well, actually you were serving God when you were serving your country. So you’ve been serving God for a lifetime.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Amen.

David:

That’s terrific to hear. Well, you know, I’ve got a Hebrew friend of mine, a rabbi, who points out that in Hebrew in the Bible it’s impossible to say the word “retirement.” That God never intended there’d be a time when we’re not productive. Sounds like you’re still right in the middle of it, brother. You’re still going strong.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

I’m still preaching. I pastored up until August in 2014.

David:

Wow. That is terrific. That is terrific, brother. Well, man, thank you for sharing your story with us. Thank you for the inspiration. Thank you for all you’ve done for all of us. And Lord willing we’ll get this word out to folks, and let them be inspired by what you’ve done so many years ago and all the way up to right now. So thank you very much, Edgar. We sure appreciate you brother.

Spreading the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ And the World Needs It, the United States Needs It

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Well, God bless you, and I appreciate you. I appreciate what you’re doing, too. You’re spreading the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and the world needs it.  The United States needs it.

David:

You got that exactly right brother. And Lord willing, we’re going to see some good changes. It’s time for another great awakening. And we need one going right now.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Amen. Well, I hope you can get this thing straightened out to where it’ll just-

David:

We’re going to give it our best shot. You gave us a lot of your life and a lot of your time. And now we’re going to put our life and time into saving the same country.

Veteran Edgar Terrell:

Well, God bless you. God bless you, sir.

We Want To Hear Your Vet Story

Rick:

Hey friends! If you have been listening to WallBuilders Live for very long at all, you know how much we respect our veterans and how appreciative we are of the sacrifice they make to make our freedoms possible. One of the ways that we love to honor those veterans is to tell their stories here on WallBuilders Live.  Once in awhile, we get an opportunity to interview veterans that have served on those front lines that have made incredible sacrifices have amazing stories that we want to share with the American people.

One of the very special things we get to do is interview World War II veterans. You’ve heard those interviews here on WallBuilders Live, from folks that were in the Band of Brothers, to folks like Edgar Harrell that survived the Indianapolis to so many other great stories you heard on WallBuilders Live.

You have friends and family that also served.  If you have World War II veterans in your family that you would like to have their story shared here on WallBuilders Live, please e-mail us at [email protected]  Give us a brief summary of the story and we’ll set up an interview. Thanks so much for sharing here on WallBuilders Live!

Special Thanks to Veteran and Pastor Edgar Terrell

Rick:

Welcome back! Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. Very special thanks to Edgar Terrell for being on the program with us. David, Tim, as always this time of year, especially Veterans Day, great way to honor our veterans. But, man, for us to get to hear their stories personally. Pretty cool.

David:

Did you hear what I heard?

Tim:

I was listening to the same interview you were so-

Terrell and His Family Actually Traveled In A Covered Wagon

David:

He and his family traveled in a covered wagon from Oklahoma to Arkansas.

Tim:

Yeah.

David:

That’s history book stuff. I mean we’ve now spoken with someone who traveled in a covered wagon.

Rick:

That is a first.

David:

That is a first. But then even the stories of war. I mean can you imagine riding a ship through two, three day long hurricanes? And so hard that you get thrown off the helm and smashed on the wall. Six days of that kind of stuff? That’s unbelievable.

Veteran Edgar Terrell Went Through Hurricanes, Radio Controlled Bombs, Torpedos- What an Amazing Guy  

And then finding out that all these radio-controlled bombs. You know when Tim and I were in Poland, we saw these radio controlled tracks that the Germans would put these bombs in these little tank tracks, and run them back in where the resistance was and them blown up without getting hurt.

I mean that the Germans had incredible technology. But just for him to be part of that. I mean what an amazing interview, what an amazing guy.

Thankful To Honor Veteran Terrel And Hear His Story

Rick:

What a great opportunity. And I know folks that are listening would love to have more of these.  They’re available on our website at WallBuildersLive.com in the archives section.  You can look for those veteran interviews. Or go on to WallBuilders.com and get the CD and share it with your friends and family.

Great way to honor those folks here. Couple days after Veteran’s Day, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late. But make sure you’re honoring them, and getting the stories of your family members as well. Thanks for listening to WallBuilders Live.

2017-11-16T14:49:42+00:00 November 13th, 2017|Military & Veterans|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Paul Engeldinger November 13, 2017 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    So glad for that interview. My dad was Navy in Palermo during that same time. I lost him in 1970. I hope to make contact with Edgar maybe they had a chance to meet.

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