Musician, veteran Billy Terrell's milestones

Vietnam interrupted Billy Terrell's songwriting career, but music will help him return to the scene of a wartime good deed.

Terrell, 68, of Delran, will star in a solo showcase Tuesday, August 20 at The Madison, in Riverside. The event will help pay for an upcoming trip to Vietnam, where he and other American soldiers assisted a Catholic orphanage called Mang Lang in 1966. Read my 2012 column here.

billy headshot 2012 (2) (2)

The trip reflects Terrell's personal mission to highlight the positive contributions of veterans -- many of whom still bear the scars of that conflict.  He also is working with PBS in New York on a proposed four-part documentary series, "The Other Side of War," that would include segments about Mang Lang.

"I'm amazed how my life seems to have come full circle over the last 50 years [since] officially entering the music business in the summer of 1963," says Terrell.

"I tucked the Vietnam experience away for decades until I finally entered PTSD counselling and joined a support group," he says, adding that the counselling "has helped prepare me to return to 'Nam and revisit the only positive memories I have of the war -- Mang Lang Orphanage and the children who meant so much to me."

As for the music,  "I sang "A Lotta Livin' To Do" from Bye Bye Birdie when I auditioned for my first manager shortly before being signed in the summer of '63," Terrell says. "Now, almost 50 years to the day, I will be opening the show with the song on Tuesday evening.  Only In America!"