Professors grant veteran’s wish to fly

Professors grant veteran’s wish to fly

MTSU professors Terry Dorris and Dr. Tony Johnston continue to collaborate behind the scenes to make wishes come true for U.S. military veterans.

Korean War veteran Bill Teague, right, prepares for a flight around Murfreesboro in a 1952 de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, courtesy of two MTSU professors. Aerospace professor Terry Dorris, left, piloted the plane; he and agriscience professor Dr. Tony Johnston arranged the trip. (MTSU photo by Janice Lewis)

Korean War veteran Bill Teague, 80, originally from Montgomery, Ala., and now a resident at the Tennessee State Veterans Home in Murfreesboro, wanted to fly in a plane one final time — a wish granted by Dorris, the pilot, and Johnston, who also is a veteran.

In fact, Teague got to fly twice on Sept. 26, a beautiful, crisp autumn afternoon. (Watch a video from the event here.)

“It was great. I thoroughly enjoyed it,” the former Nashville resident said of the flight, blue eyes twinkling minutes after getting off the 1952 de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, at Murfreesboro Airport. “I got my (civilian) pilot license in ’65. It had been a while since I had flown.”

Barbara Cochran, TSVH activities director, said that Teague “had made it known he’d really like to fly again. At the veterans home, we have the ability to make wishes come true.”

Dorris, an assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace, and Johnston, a professor in the School of Agribusiness and Agriscience and a member of the 118th Airlift Wing of the Tennessee National Guard, took another TSVH resident, World War II fighter pilot John Ford, up in the de Havilland Beaver late last year, too.

On this flight, Dorris carried Teague to the north, west and south sides of Murfreesboro. From above, he was able to view the Tennessee State Veterans Home, The Avenue and the 500-plus-acre MTSU campus.

“He’s an old pilot. (As a pilot), you get accustomed to landmarks,” Dorris said. “He knew where he was. He was smiling and waving, and giving me the thumb’s-up sign.”

Teague teased Delacey Gillespie, a TSVH nurse who accompanied him on both flights. She never had flown before.

— Randy Weiler (