On Tuesday, June 18, 2013 Jack (Jake) Terzian, 93, put on his infamous P47 cap for the last time. Jack, of Armenian descent, was born Kegham Terzian in Adana, Turkey 28 July, 1919. He was the third child of Paul, a pharmacist, and Sirouhi Kalousdian Terzian, a schoolteacher. Jack and his family immigrated to the U. S. in 1924 where he attended school in Brooklyn and in Manhattan, New York. He was a photographer in civilian life before he enlisted in the U. S. Army Air corps on March 11, 1941. When the U. S. entered World War II in December 1941, Jack applied for and was accepted to military flying school. He graduated as a pilot and...
On Tuesday, June 18, 2013 Jack (Jake) Terzian, 93, put on his infamous P47 cap for the last time. Jack, of Armenian descent, was born Kegham Terzian in Adana, Turkey 28 July, 1919. He was the third child of Paul, a pharmacist, and Sirouhi Kalousdian Terzian, a schoolteacher. Jack and his family immigrated to the U. S. in 1924 where he attended school in Brooklyn and in Manhattan, New York. He was a photographer in civilian life before he enlisted in the U. S. Army Air corps on March 11, 1941. When the U. S. entered World War II in December 1941, Jack applied for and was accepted to military flying school. He graduated as a pilot and Lieutenant in November 1942. He became a P47 Fighter Pilot and departed for England with his flying group in June 1943 where he flew bomber escort and other fighter-bomber missions. In April 1944 on his way back to England after a bomber escort mission over north Germany, his plane, which he had named Marty for the girl he left at home, ran out of fuel, causing him to bail out of his aircraft into the North Sea about 80 miles from the British coast. He survived the icy waters for the next four hours before being rescued by a British launch. In May 1944 on a dive-bomber mission over German occupied Belgium, his P47 was hit by German anti-aircraft fire while he was strafing a flak tower. Jack crash-landed his aircraft near Brussels, Belgium and was rescued by the Belgian Underground who helped him evade capture for the next two months. The Gestapo raided the home in which he was hiding, and he was turned over to the Wehrmacht and incarcerated in St. Gilles prison. Two months later as the Allied Ground Forces were approaching Brussels, the Germans began evacuating Brussels by railroad train. The Belgian underground derailed one of the cars of the train, known as the Phantom Train, and Jack and forty other allied airmen escaped during the Germans' panic. He returned to England and then home to New York.
He married his Marty (Martha Tait) on 15 October 1944 in Chester, Virginia.
His 23-year military career in the Air Force included assignments in New Jersey, Michigan, New Hampshire, Alaska, Arizona, Texas; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and he retired as a Lt. Colonel at Dyess AFB in Abilene in 1963. For meritorious service while a member of the U. S. Air Force, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster; Air Force Medal with Four Oak Leaf Clusters; Purple Heart; POW Medal; and the Air Force Commendation Medal.
After retiring from the USAF, he was an agent for New York Life Insurance Co. in Abilene for 25 years, retiring again in 1988. He was a former member of the Abilene Optimist Club, the national, state, and local Life Underwriters Association, and the Board of Directors of the Better Business Bureau. He also served as chairman of the Ethics Committee of the Abilene Life Underwriters Association and is a current member of the Retired Officers Association, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Disabled Veterans (DAV), the Air Force Escape and Evasion Society, and the P47 Thunderbolt Association.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his two brothers, William and James and their wives Violet and Mary, daughter in law, Arax Kalajian, and niece, Eileen.
To carry on his memory and recount his fabulous life are his wife, Marty; two sons, Robert P.and Alicja Waliszewska, of Annandale, VA.; and Charles L. of Austin, Texas, and one daughter, Toni T. Wellhausen and husband, Larry of Abilene; grandchildren, Bree Linne Perez and husband Benjamin, and Jacob Kegam Locke; John F. Egner and wife Pam; Samantha Egner Teixeira and husband, Brian; great grandchildren, Ian Perez, Julia Arax Teixeira, Elizabeth and Matthew Egner, and Hines Wellhausen, and several nieces and nephews.
Jack will be remembered for his kind smile, sense of integrity, tender heart, and strong faith in God. He served his country with pride and held strong to the belief that he did what everyone else would have done ~ he was just lucky enough to have survived. Typical of The Greatest Generation, he shied away from personal recognition and never wanted to be made into a hero ~ even though to his family he always was. He was a kind and gentle soul, albeit stubborn! Jack was immaculate in dress and a consummate gentleman. Even at his frailest, he had a handshake for his guests and an offer of something to drink. He believed family to be of the utmost importance and imparted that sense to those who loved him the most. Simply put, his goal in life was to take care of his wife and children, and he did it very well. We will miss the sight of his ever-present P-47 caps.
Many thanks to his many tender, gentle, and kind caretakers, including Candy, Janet, Debbie, Janie, Grace, and many others and Hendrick Hospice, all of whom supplied not only care but much love.
A memorial service will be held at 3:30p.m. on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at Wylie Christian Church. Inurnment will be at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, a memorial donation be made in Jack's name to Wylie Christian Church.