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The Remarkable Journey of Harold Terry: WWII Veteran to Elected Sheriff

U. S. Marines
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 08/12/1943 – 11/30/1945
Rifleman, 22nd Marine Regiment

Harold was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, as one of three sons of Edwin Bryant Terry and Lola DeSpain Terry. His parents divorced when he was two years old. His father’s alimony and the boys’ odd jobs supported the family. While in school, he delivered circulars for grocery stores and worked for a liquor company in delivery until he was injured in a traffic accident. “I was riding my bicycle to deliver some and ran into a car and cut my arm open. Somebody picked me up and took me to the Highland Hospital, and he sewed it up, and I lost my job,” he explains. The brothers hunted mainly squirrels and rabbits to supplement the family table.

Meanwhile, Terry attended Byrd High School as an ROTC cadet. He entered welding school at age 15 and was hired as a welder in a plant near Karnack, Texas, a year or so later. At age 17, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. His mother signed his enlistment papers. Entering service in August of 1943, he completed boot camp in San Diego. Harold was placed in the 2nd Raider Battalion. He went overseas to Guadalcanal and was transferred to the 1st Provisional Replacement Brigade. As a replacement in the 22nd Marine Regiment, he was sent to Guam, where he fought in its recapture. “It was close because it was small, and we had a lot of people on it, and we just overpowered them,” is how he characterizes the nature of the island fighting. Harold carried a Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) on Okinawa, where he says the combat was ferocious. He lost everyone in his platoon during 40 days of fighting. “They’re good,” he says of the Japanese soldiers. “They were willing to die, and we wanted to live.” Harold was sent home for combat fatigue and recovered in a hospital in Norman, Oklahoma. His tour of duty was completed, and he was discharged in New Orleans on November 30, 1945. Returning to Shreveport, Harold earned a high school diploma in “about six or eight months” from Hope Street High School, a school for veterans. He then began working for the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Department as a part-time officer until December 6, 1947, when he was made a regular deputy. Harold attended “several schools” of the police and sheriff’s departments and other agencies, including the FBI Academy in Washington, D.C. He rose in the ranks and was made a lieutenant in charge of the sheriff’s patrol. On March 2, 1961, he married Jane Willis. (They would have one daughter together and two grandchildren. Mrs. Willis has two children from a previous marriage, and Harold has one from a previous marriage.) Harold was an excellent marksman, winning several competitions in shoulder-fired weapons and pistols. He also performed marksmanship demonstrations, including shooting bars of soap that Jane held in her hand. Harold was elected sheriff in 1975 and served in that capacity until 1980. He retired and opened a firearms training institute he ran for ten years before selling.

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