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Colt Terry, Green Beret

By Charles D. Patton

Publication Year: 2005

Through one man’s career, Colt Terry, Green Beret portrays the birth and development of America’s most elite fighting unit. The 10th Special Forces Group was the first of the Green Beret units. Its five hundred men, all Airborne and mostly Rangers, received extensive training in everything from specialized weapons to uncommon languages. Their primary mission was to train and lead indigenous guerillas operating in enemy territory. Second Lieutenant Colt Terry, who had joined the 82nd Airborne in 1947, had already done this in Korea. As a volunteer in the 10th SFG, he carried on his service, working with the Montagnards in Vietnam and The Khmer in Cambodia. He fought at Pleiku, Duc Co, and Plei Me, and he ferried supplies and weapons on elephants into Cambodia. From his enlistment as a buck private in 1945 to his retirement as a lieutenant colonel in 1970, Terry served five tours in combat, trained guerrillas, and earned two combat infantry badges, a Purple Heart, and two Bronze Stars. His experiences contributed to Special Forces’ expertise in ambushes and killing techniques. Even as an officer, Terry never shied away from going deep into the jungle in search of the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army. He personally organized a successful effort to save hundreds of men in one of Special Forces’ most critical A-team camps. As one of the original Green Berets, Terry helped set the standards by which these units have become known. Anyone who has ever wondered what the Green Berets were like during their first two decades will appreciate the riveting action and close-up detail of Terry’s true-life story . This is the story of Curtis “Colt” Terry, one of the original Green Berets. The information for this story came primarily from Colt’s personal recollections documented in taped interviews. Many facts were confirmed with fellow paratroopers, military historians, and Special Forces NCOs and officers who served with him. Colt gave the interviews to leave a record of his experiences. After hearing Colt’s story, the author felt that other people should know this man.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

Preface

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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction

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pp. 3-4

This is the story of an ordinary man who performed extraordinary deeds. Colt Terry enlisted in the U.S. Army at the end of World War II, a time when no more wars could be imagined. He rose from private to master sergeant and, after nearly two years in Korea, including one tour behind enemy lines, received a field commission to second lieutenant. This rarely bestowed honor instilled in Colt an undying loyalty to...

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1. Indoctrination and Combat Jump into Korea

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pp. 5-27

Curtis "Colt" Terry was only sixteen years old when he enlisted in the U.S. Army on September 26, 1945.1 Underage and naïve, he had no idea what he was facing or what the army would become to him. At the time he was five feet, seven inches tall, all of 126 pounds, with dark, dark brown hair and a front tooth that stood out at nearly a...

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2. In Korea with the 187th Regimental Combat Team

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pp. 28-35

On a day in May, 1951, Colt, with Pvt. J. B. "Smith" driving, pulled up in a jeep full of ammunition for G Company, their unit. As they approached its position along the Soyang River at the Inje Pass, the Chinese, who were dug in on the hill across the river, started shooting at them. Smith pulled the jeep behind a small house until Colt could...

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3. Behind Enemy Lines on Nan- do

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pp. 36-53

"All of our platoon leaders are dead. It's about time that they sent us a combat replacement." This was his greeting from Captain "Cassidy," adjutant for the 24th Infantry Division Replacement Company, when Colt arrived in Korea for his second tour on October 19, 1951.1 For weeks the 24th Infantry Division had been attacking a Chinese controlled...

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4. Special Forces Is Formed

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pp. 54-72

While he was on Nan-Do, Colt was recognized for his willingness to assume responsibility. On Captain Ulatoski's recommendation, he was commissioned a second lieutenant on June 1, 1952.1 Promoting an NCO to commissioned officer through a field promotion happens very infrequently. Ulatoski recommended Colt because he had demonstrated the characteristics of an officer by teaching others...

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5. The Dangers of Maintaining Prowess

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pp. 73-86

On August 13, 1956, Colt arrived at Edward Gary Air Force Base in San Marcos, Texas, to attend an eighteen week army aviation-tactics course---Army Primary Flight Training Class 57-3. After a brief altercation with one of the flight instructors, he was dropped from the class, and returned to the 535th Military Intelligence Group at Fort Bragg, where he was appointed as FA team leader under...

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6. Okinawa

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pp. 87-96

After some time in Georgia and a short leave, in February, 1960, Colt was assigned to the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Okinawa.1 When he reported for duty, the commander, Col. Francis B. "Frank" Mills, assigned him to command Detachment A-33, known as one of the toughest and best Special Forces teams in the group. He told Colt that he considered him to be one of the few...

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7. Welcome to Vietnam

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pp. 97-108

Colt walked into the Military Advisory Command Vietnam (MACV) Headquarters in Ban Me Thuot in October,1962.1 The commander, Colonel "Green," did not care for Special Forces because they were under the CIA's control rather than under his command.2 Colt advised the colonel, "Sir, we've got a wounded Special Forces sergeant, about fifty clicks [kilometers] from here. If we don't get 'im to a hospital...

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8. Rotation and Ishigaki

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pp. 109-121

When Colt arrived back on Okinawa from his first tour in Vietnam in March, 1963, he was assigned as commander of the 1st Special Forces (Airborne) Parachute School. The 1st Special Forces (Airborne) had arranged with the U.S. Army to teach parachuting to navy underwater demolition teams (UDTs), marine reconnaissance teams, and...

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9. Back to Vietnam

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pp. 122-129

When Colt arrived in Nha Trang on September 12, 1964, he reported to the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), led by Col. John H. "the Lancer" Spears, who had recently become group commander.1 Colt quickly went into action. His initial assignment was as liaison officer to the South Vietnamese Special Forces (VNSF) to assist them in writing and...

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10. Pleiku and Martha Raye

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pp. 130-134

In June, 1965, Colt was assigned to Detachment C-2 at Pleiku, Vietnam, as XO under Col. William A. Patch.1 At that time, in the mid-1960s, a number of field- grade officers were transferring into Special Forces in Vietnam so that their records would show combat in a Special Forces unit---a card punched on the way up their career ladder. Patch, the son of a general, had no prior...

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11. Colt's Finest Hour

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pp. 135-141

In August, 1965, Colonel Patch and Colt tried to explain to the commander of an army medevac helicopter unit, Colonel "Trembley," that Special Forces had American and CIDG casualties numbering forty dead and one hundred wounded at Duc Co and needed his help. The camp also was running out of ammunition and needed medical...

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12. Plei Me

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pp. 142-155

When Colt returned from Saigon, Colonel Patch told him that an attack had occurred while he was away. The colonel had received an intelligence report that the NVA had moved into and taken over the district town of Le Thanh. Not believing that the enemy could have advanced that far, Patch wanted to know whether the report was...

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13. Project Flying Horse

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pp. 156-161

In early 1966 Lieutenant Colonel Bennett, who had recently left his position as XO of the 5th Special Forces Group to set up a new team, C-5, requested that Colt leave his current C-team assignment in Pleiku and move to Saigon to join him. Colt joined Bennett as his XO in establishing the top- secret project. Bennett's assignment, as Colt understood it, was to obtain intelligence about enemy operations...

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14. Operating along the Cambodian Border

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pp. 162-170

In May, 1966, col. William A. "Bulldog" McKean left C-5, and a month later Col. Francis J. "Blackjack" Kelly arrived to replace him as 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) commander at Pleiku. In June, 1966, Lieutenant Colonel Bennett rotated back to the States, promoted to (full) colonel, and assigned, as Colt recalls, as deputy commander of the...

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15. $3.2 Million Missing and Elephant Missions

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pp. 171-179

By late 1966, the two special forces officers, Major Ferrington and Captain Cooper, who Colonel Bennett previously had dispatched to the Mekong Delta to collect intelligence and who had received a large portion of the mission's $3.2 million had still not submitted any good intelligence.1 Colt had been conducting his own investigation and met with Colonel Kelly at least once...

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16. Reflection

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pp. 180-189

Upon his departure from Vietnam, Colt was given permission to visit Bangkok, Hong Kong, Okinawa, Taipei, Hawaii, and Japan, and he visited them all. On his way home Colt learned that he had been promoted to lieutenant colonel.1 He was ready to return stateside for good when he was rotated back. With eighteen years in Special Forces, nearly half of that time in combat zones, and five years...

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17. Retirement

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pp. 190-192

After leaving special forces, Colt lived for a time in Las Vegas, Nevada, but he continued to be bothered about the $3.2 million that was missing from the Flying Horse mission.1 He sent a registered letter in a double envelope marked confidential to General, formerly Colonel, Bennett, Colt's former commander, around March, 1970, containing all of the information he knew about the...

Notes

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pp. 193-216

Bibliography

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pp. 217-218

Index

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pp. 219-227


E-ISBN-13: 9781603446068
E-ISBN-10: 1603446060
Print-ISBN-13: 9781585444694
Print-ISBN-10: 1585444693

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 30 b&w photos.
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Terry, Colt, 1929-.
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Commando operations.
  • United States. Army -- Officers -- Biography.
  • United States. Army. Special Forces -- Biography.
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