Some wept quietly as Army Reserve Col. David Taylor recalled the friends who never made it out of Vietnam.
“My war was the Vietnam War, and so, many of my heroes are on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington,” he said.
Taylor, who lives in Medina, delivered the keynote address during Sunday afternoon’s Memorial Day program at the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman.
He remembered the men he served with who never made it home, their lives cut short.
He recalled jumping out of a helicopter in Vietnam. He jumped out one side of the chopper, and his friends and fellow soldiers, the other side. They were shot and killed by enemy fire.
Taylor said the tremendous loss suffered by many who served in wartime is why he and other veterans may seem to be in another place and time during the Memorial Day holiday.
“We are searching our minds for past comrades, past events,” he said.
Taylor, who served as a platoon leader, also remembers being hit by enemy fire, sustaining a gunshot wound to his left side and a gunshot that shattered his right leg. As he lay in a ditch, one of his squad leaders, Gregory Scherf, ran through enemy fire to reach him and bandage his leg.
“He reassured me, his leader, that we were going to get out of there,” he said.
But as he finished bandaging Taylor’s leg, he lifted his head above the ditch and was struck in the head by enemy fire. Taylor said no amount of training prepares you for watching a man die while risking his life to save yours.
“Young men at 18 or 19 are professionals at nothing, certainly not navigating the bridge between life and death,” said Taylor, who serves as president of the Joint Veterans Coalition of Medina County.
Taylor thanked the priests, pastors and rabbis who helped him and other men move on from the war.
“They reminded us there is a God,” he said.
Taylor also thanked veterans for their service and the families in attendance for their support.
“For those who never left the battlefield alive, our deepest gratitude,” he said.