Senior Matters: The Perfect Santa Claus is a Vietnam Veteran

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Most of the veterans of the Vietnam War are retired now.

For many, that was a long time ago, and something they don’t want to talk about.

But, there’s life after wartime, and an opportunity to give back to others in retirement.

LIEUTENANT Colonel Doug Terry, U-S Army retired, is doing that in a unique way.

Here’s News 12’s Bill Mitchell with tonight’s Senior Matters.

These videos from the Vietnam war are familiar to Doug Terry. He did 20 years in the military…and 10 more as a helicopter pilot for private companies.

The Alabama native has degrees in chemistry and accounting. With all that history….what would you expect him to do in retirement?
That’s right..he’s the most realistic looking Santa we’ve ever seen..and when the beard Grows out this time of year…he’s never anybody but Santa.

“when you go into a restaurant or somewhere you know people see you and recognize you as Santa Claus and once you assume the character, Santa Claus..you have to stay in character..you can’t come out of it even in a restaurant.”

Doug says after he first grew the beard, a little girl in church stopped him to tell him what she wanted for Christmas.

So, he finally bought the Kris Kringle suit and let it be known that he’s ready to make a few appearances. He says it taught him a lesson.

“there’s hope…there’s life after retirement. But you have to get out and look for it.”

They say a good Santa..or Santa’s helper as most prefer…can make 30-thousand dollars during Christmas season.
Doug Terry must be wracking up!

“I don’t charge anything..its just strictly a volunteer uh action on my part … I do the Collegedale/Ooltewah parade.”

…And several other appearances every year..like news 12 for the annual Christmas luncheon.

On another occasion he visited a retirement home to see a friend.

“I was in full Santa dress..so I dropped in to see him. And he was not in his room, so I just kind of wandered around in the hall..and wandered into a room. An there were about 5 older people in there…and when I walked in..you know, they looked sad..and depressed and when I walked in their faces just lit up…it makes is worthwhile to see that and be Santa to those people.”

Before we close…..we have to make one final request of “Santa” Doug Terry…..

“HO HO HO MERRY CHRISTMAS”.

For Senior Matters, Bill Mitchell News 12 Now.

Categories: Featured, Hamilton County, Local News, Senior Matters