Gulf War veteran’s son headed to Iraq

Marine Corps Pvt. Ryan Taylor is following in his father’s footsteps and the trail is leading right into the middle of the Iraqi desert.

His father, Jim Taylor, 49, a retired Marine Corps major, fought in Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm.

Although Ryan Taylor, 19, is bound for another country, the desert is the same and so, essentially, is the mission, and Taylor said he is proud serve.

“It’s actually pretty cool, because I’m also in the same tank company Dad was in charge of back in 1988,” Ryan Taylor said.

In 1991, when Ryan was seven years old, he was interviewed by the Potomac News after his mother dropped him off at day care.

Ryan wasn’t happy about the Gulf War, or with the Marine Corps back then.

“I just want them to send Daddy home now,” he said in the 1991 interview.

But his early experience had no lasting impact, at least as far as the Marine Corps was concerned.

“Ever since I was little I wanted to be a Marine. Of course when you’re a little kid you always want to be an astronaut or a doctor, but my choice has really always been the Marines,” Ryan Taylor said.

Jim Taylor said he never pressured Ryan or Ryan’s brother James one way or the other when it came to career choices.

“I never pushed my kids to go any other way than the path they chose, but I’m proud as hell that Ryan decided to be a Marine. I’m proud of both of my sons — Ryan as a Marine and James as a mechanic,” Taylor said.

While neither man has any illusions about combat, both feel that this war is something that needs to be done.

“It’s pretty scary stuff that’s going on, but it’s what needs to be done,” said Ryan Taylor who is bound for Iraq as soon as he finishes advanced infantry training at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

“I feel proud going over there considering my father’s been over there. I think it’s my turn to step up and keep everybody safe back home,” Ryan Taylor said.

The younger Taylor said he is more concerned about the danger at home, if world conditions are allowed to continue as the are.

“The thing I’m worried about, since we live so close to D.C., is I don’t want them sending anything bad over here. I’m pretty worried about the nuclear, biological weapons,” said Ryan Taylor,

Taylor said public perception of the war with Iraq might be somewhat skewed, because most American have never experienced combat or relied upon the training of others for their lives.

“People who don’t know the business and don’t have a perspective are more afraid of it than they should be,” Jim Taylor said of war.

“I know a lot of the Marines who are in charge of the battalions, the companies, you know everything over there, and I have the utmost faith and confidence in their abilities,” Taylor said.

“More people come home from war than don’t,” he said.

“More people are killed every year on the highway that in 10 years in combat in Vietnam,” the retired major said.

“Life is inherently dangerous. All we get out of it is death and any day, any one of us can get up in the morning and not come home at night because of a car wreck,” Taylor said.

To illustrate his philosophy on the danger of life in general, Taylor spoke an experience he had during the Gulf War.

The story is of a family in his neighborhood back home, while he and the other Marines fought in Kuwait.

“My family was worried about me, but two doors down from me, while I was deployed, one of our neighbors lost his wife, his 16-year-old daughter and his 8-year-old son in a car wreck right outside Potomac High School,” Ryan said.

On another level, Jim Taylor said, the war is difficult and unpredictable and the American fighting men and women have a tricky job ahead of them — especially in the Mideast.

“I was over there. The whole Mideast is a primitive civilization. They’re kickin’ and screamin’ on their way into the 21st century. They still have medieval ideas. It reflects in the way they treat people and the way they conduct war. It’s not a very nice place,” Jim Taylor said.

The success of the first Gulf War may have contributed to unrealistic expectations for this war, Ryan said.

“Simple accidents happen too. I mean you’re driving down the road in the middle of a sand storm and … you do run into each other.”

Rita Champagne, Ryan Taylor’s girlfriend, said she’s not at all happy about Ryan’s deployment.

“I don’t want anything to happen to him,” said Rita Champagne, 19.

Ryan Taylor said he and Rita will decide on their future when he returns.

“It’s hard for both of us, but when I come back, everything will be all right,” he said.

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