Houston missionary rescued from Russian-occupied Ukraine speaks with FOX 26

Houstonian Terry Gateley spoke with FOX 26 grateful to be alive after being rescued from Russian-occupied Ukraine. Gateley says he is forever changed from the experience.

"I accepted death. I was dead, trust me, and that’s all I’m going to say," said Gateley. "I accepted death."


Gateley says he was abducted twice. The second time he was held for eight days and tortured.

"At one of the checkpoints, they took all the men’s passports, they saw I was an American and took my phone," says Gateley. "They saw a lot of pictures of guns."

Gateley says he is a licensed instructor in Texas.

"They thought that he was there to teach Ukraine citizens how to use guns," says Gateley.

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Gateley, a 63-year-old missionary working at a Ukrainian orphanage for disabled and underprivileged children since last year, was grabbed off the street, arrested and interrogated by Russian intelligence services in early July.

He says after being captured the second time, they forced him to put a bag over his head, and took him to a second location.

"There was blood everywhere, I mean everywhere. So I pretty much understood you were going to be. If not, it was not going to be good," says Gateley. "A general and some other man came in and grabbed my head, I had a gun to my head and back, and they questioned me, and at the end they played Russian roulette with my head."

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Bryan Stern, Co-founder of Project DYNAMO, a donor-funded, veteran led non-profit, says Terry’s rescue involved many risks.

"Terry was in a place called Kherson, which was occupied from day one of the war," said Stern. "So, we were in the war zone, front line."

"Anytime you come back home to Texas, it’s a great feeling. But when you come back from death, it’s a wonderful feeling," said Gateley.

To learn more about Project DYNAMO, click here: