More detail on this person: Well I, Richard "Dick" Terrell Fortenberry, finally died at age 79, but not before God gave me a wonderful and exciting life. I always said that if I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself, but there was a time I didn't plan on living past 35 years old. I was born Richard Terrell Fortenberry to Richard Franklin and Mildred Haney Fortenberry on June 4, 1938 in Coleman, Texas. My mother was killed in a car accident when I was two years old and I was given to my Grandparents, Baxter and Jesse Fortenberry to raise. In 1956, I joined the Army and went to paratrooper school with the 77th Special Forces Group at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. After completing my individual and unit training I attended the parachute riggers school in Ft. Lee, Virginia. In 1958, "Skydiving" was approved as a sport in the military. I made my first free-fall on November 8, 1958 on Sicily Drop Zone. I rapidly excelled in the sport and when the STRAC Parachute Team (later to become the "GOLDEN KNIGHTS") was formed, I was one of the original seven members. During my assignment on the Team I became the first to ever win three consecutive National Championships, 1961, 1962, and 1963, and help establish 24 world accuracy records. I was on the United States Parachute Team from 1960 through 1964, and was team Captain from '61 through '64. In 1960, I won the "overall" silver medal in Sofia, Bulgeria, and was the first to ever make a "dead center" landing on the target. In 1962, I won Bronze at Orange, Mass. And in 1964 I won that illusive Gold Medal as Overall World Champion, in Leiutkirch, West Germany. In 1975, I was awarded the "Leonardo da Vinci Diploma" by the Federation of Aeronautics International. This is the highest award in the world for parachuting. For my tour of duty on the Golden Knights, I was awarded the Legion of Merit. In 2011, I authored a book titled "NO ETA", The Pioneering Days of Skydiving. Accomplishing all I could in parachuting, I entered the Army's helicopter flight school graduating 2nd in my class and spent the next fifteen months as a gunship pilot in Viet Nam. During that period, I was awarded the Bronze Star and 26 air medals, two of which, were for valor. In 2016 I was inducted into the National Skydiving Hall of Fame for my contributions to the sport. I was also inducted into the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame this year. I am survived by my beautiful wife of 40 years, Linda; our children, twin daughters, Jennifer Fortenberry and Amanda Clary, Theresa Creber, Diana Thomasson and Chanc; nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held in December at the Golden Knight Reunion in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Remembrances: Golden Knights Alumni Association - Post Office Box 42401, Fayetteville, North Carolina 28309-2401. IT WAS A LONG, STRANGE JOURNEY! NOW WHAT?
This information was last updated 07/12/2017
Please send additions or corrections to: HQ@vhpa.org VHPA Headquarters
Return to the Helicopter Pilot DAT name list
Return to VHPA web site
Date posted on this site: 11/02/2023
Copyright © 1998 - 2023 Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association