MONTGOMERY, AL --
In 1965, as the Vietnam War polarized the U.S. public, one young man unwaveringly followed his childhood dreams. He spoke to his father, a Navy veteran who fought in World War II, and told him he wanted to be a Marine.
The desire to serve in the Armed Forces would become a common family trait.
That boy was Thomas G. Taylor, who, after meeting a Marine recruiter at 17 years old, was convinced that the Marine Corps was his calling. Now his grandson, Benjamin E. Bowdoin, is following in his footsteps.
“When you’re young and go into war, you don’t really understand what war is,” said Taylor, who enlisted under the military occupation specialty of 0311 infantryman in 1965. “But what it gave me was the ability to evaluate what life was really about.”
Taylor yearned to be on the frontline, a passion that would lead him to joining Force Reconnaissance. In 1968, he deployed to Vietnam with 1st Force Reconnaissance Company and served honorably through combat.
“I had two gunshot wounds,” said Taylor. “I recovered from those, had a successful Marine Corps career, and I believe now that going into the Marine Corps was the basic foundation on making me a man, a leader, and a doer. Going into combat makes you evaluate your mental and physical state, and when you perform successfully, I believe you carry that throughout your entire life.”
After the war, in 1975 Taylor would transfer to what was then the newly-established MOS of military police. He continued in that role until 1986, when he retired as a master sergeant.
“Even now, I am 72 years old, and I believe I can do anything,” said Taylor. “When I was 17, coming out of high school, I didn’t think I could do anything. The Marine Corps made me the person I am today.”
Bowdoin, Taylor’s grandson, is a senior at Pleasant Valley High School in Jacksonville, Alabama. He’s currently 17 years old, the same age his grandfather was when he enlisted.
“I remember growing up, just looking through his photos and him telling me stories about Vietnam,” said Bowdoin. “Just the thought of him being in Force Recon is cool. It’s rare, and he really inspired me.”
When Bowdoin showed interest in joining the military, Taylor took him on a road trip across the country to various military installations. When they reached their last stop, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina, Bowdoin decided which branch to join.
“The other branches weren’t as organized as the Marines were,” said Bowdoin. “Everybody was in shape on Parris Island, and you can tell they really push their guys. After that, I told him I wanted to join the Marines.”
Bowdoin joined the Marine Corps Delayed Entry Program on Oct. 2, under Recruiting Substation Anniston, Recruiting Station Montgomery. As part of the DEP, he is preparing for recruit training, which takes place at MCRD Parris Island. If he completes the 13 weeks of training there, he will earn the title of Marine like his grandfather before him.