Capt. Charles Taylor

Capt. Charles Taylor

Written by Sue Tone

When Charlie Taylor arrived in Vietnam in 1967, he knew he would see combat. Like so many other young men, he wondered how he would react in battle. Adrenaline carried him through that first firefight, he said.

“I learned that the biggest fear is the fear of the unknown. Once I was aboard the boats with my men, diesels humming, I could relax. And when the bullets were flying, there was very little fear because the adrenaline takes over and the training takes over,” U.S. Army Capt. Taylor said. “You just do what you have to do at that point in time.”

Returning to civilian life was easier for Taylor than other veterans – he was coming home to Prescott where men patted him on the back and said, “Atta boy, Charlie, we’re proud of you.”

For years, not many people knew he was a Vietnam veteran. He suffered with PTSD, was hypervigilant, and tough on his wife and son. “What I told him was mistakes will get you killed. And that’s true. You make a mistake, you forget something, you have bad tactics – mistakes will get you killed.”

Taylor credits his attendance at battalion reunions with healing his combat trauma. He was able to visit the Vietnam War Memorial. In 2011, he traveled with his family to Vietnam. “The wonderful thing is I realized the Vietnam of my memories does not exist anymore.”

He earned the respect of his men as well as his officers during his one-year tour in Vietnam.

“I will go to my grave with leading men in combat being the biggest thing I’ve ever done. It was a tremendous honor, a great responsibility, and in hindsight very rewarding.”

Charlie Taylor, photographed by Bruce Roscoe