The Shootist

Terry Anderson thought he'd be in Athens right now, chasing his lifelong dream of Olympic gold. Instead, he's in prison, his life plugged full of holes.

When a stunned Marylynn asked her husband about the accident, she saw Anderson's face darken as he literally backed away from her. He never spoke about Babette with her again.


In 1979, Anderson was named national coach for the U.S. pistol team, but he took the post only on the condition that he could try out for the Olympics as an individual. He made the 1980 U.S. Olympic team--the same year President Jimmy Carter ordered a boycott of the Moscow games.

It was a devastating blow. "We got to go to Washington and have barbecue on the White House lawn," Marylynn says. "Jimmy Carter kissed me." But Anderson still detests the former president.

Marylynn Anderson feared for her life after finding her husband's cache of secret weapons.
Marylynn Anderson feared for her life after finding her husband's cache of secret weapons.
Terry Anderson won 17 national titles as a shooter and made two Olympic teams.
Photo courtesy of pilkguns.com
Terry Anderson won 17 national titles as a shooter and made two Olympic teams.

The stagnant Louisiana economy had Anderson scouting for new business opportunities. In '81, they moved to Dallas, where he developed apartments and office complexes; Marylynn sold real estate.

From 1981 through 1986, Anderson was on the board of Interrand Corp., a Virginia-based company that made silencers for the U.S. military. He often traveled with a bag of bulky .22-caliber target pistols that cost up to $1,500 each. Anderson competed in countries behind the Iron Curtain and developed contacts with their elite shooters, often military officers or members of agencies like the KGB.

Three or four years into the marriage, a lonely Marylynn asked Anderson to quit. "He said very gently, 'I told you shooting would always come first.' I said, 'Good point.'"

In those days, Anderson trained, performed his military duties or traveled to competitions as much as 180 days a year. Says Marylynn: "He loved that possibility of achieving his ultimate dream." But some of his trips scared her, like one journey to Rumania in the early '80s.

By then, Anderson had slipped into a world of political intrigue. In Rumania for a competition, Anderson met with Nina Iuga, wife of Rumanian world champion shooter Dan Iuga, who had defected to the United States in 1981. Ceauçescu's despotic regime had refused to let Iuga's wife and two kids join him. On a hunger strike, Nina told Anderson she wanted to kill herself so at least her children could leave. After promising to help, Anderson was detained and grilled by the secret police. Through the efforts of Anderson and others, Nina finally got her visa.

"Terry was instrumental in getting Dan here and pulling strings to get his daughters and wife out," says one former member of the U.S. pistol team who asked not to be identified. "To hear Terry tell it, he honestly thought they were going to shoot him."

A year later, Anderson persuaded a Cuban shooter to defect. The Cuban brought a Soviet-built Mi24 attack helicopter with him. When he landed in Honduras, Anderson was there with a $1.2 million line of credit supplied by a Department of Defense program called Operational Test and Evaluation, which assessed opposing-force--meaning Soviet--military aircraft and equipment.

Anderson says he got paid nothing for what he considered a simple act of patriotism. But he was living a daredevil life other men only fantasized about. That Marylynn wanted him home more seemed unimportant.

Some acquaintances say Anderson bragged about his overseas adventures, but most of those contacted by the Dallas Observer say he never mentioned them at all. Nor did he claim to be an assassin. But friends began pulling Marylynn aside at parties to ask, "Is Terry in the CIA?"

With two children and a husband who traveled all the time, Marylynn felt "abandoned." She began seeing a psychiatrist, a former priest named Leo McCandlish. But she didn't leave Anderson. "I had no money and two small children," she says. "What would I do?" She portrays herself as trained "like a dog" by her husband to avoid confrontation. One midnight in 1987, Marylynn got a chilling call from the Cuban Interest Section of the U.S. State Department informing her that Anderson was in critical condition and a fellow U.S. shooter had been killed in a car accident. Anderson and teammate Robin Vinnola, in Cuba for shooting competition, had left the range after practice, heading to the beach in a rented Russian-made Lada. As Anderson drove over a rise, the Lada was slammed head-on by a Cuban troop transport.

Frantic, Marylynn began phoning everyone they knew in Washington to try to get Anderson out of Cuba. She finally reached Gary Anderson, head of the National Rifle Association, who contacted a Miami doctor with a private jet who picked up Terry and flew him to Dallas.

Anderson's right leg, left arm and both hands were broken; his face had been lacerated by the non-tempered windshield glass. His doctor showed Marylynn rocks and grass still embedded in his wounds under the casts put on by Cuban doctors. Infection set in because Anderson's wounds hadn't been sterilized. "The orthopedic surgeon said, 'If you hadn't gotten him here, he would have died within six hours,'" Marylynn says. On her birthday Anderson sent her 100 roses for saving his life. But over the years he began giving credit to everybody but her, Marylynn says bitterly.

In the hospital, Anderson's major concern was that his shooting career was over. But through "sheer force of will," Marylynn says, he had healed enough by the end of the year to attend a match in England. "I admired him for that," she says. Anderson started training for the 1992 Olympics as if his life depended on it.

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