In November 1988, the Elkview, W.Va., native married his hometown sweetheart, Teresa, and their son, Justin, was born the following year. Leaving behind his young family was the hardest part of deployment for Taylor, who spoke about missing his son’s first steps and his first haircut.
“Their was a lot of sacrifice,” Taylor said.
During the war, Taylor was stationed at Jubail, Saudi Arabia, where Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi Arabia all meet. He worked as a medic for the Marine Corps, which does not have its own medical or dental personnel, primarily treating Iraqi prisoners of war and searching them for weapons.
“When we went over, Iraq was a hardened military. … You didn’t know what they were going to have to throw at you. You didn’t know if they were going to use chemical weapons,” Taylor said.
Although no one in his battalion was killed, Taylor recalled hearing that one of the first Americans shot in the conflict was a Navy Air Corpsman. That was a sobering moment for him, and for his family.
“People were afraid and uneasy. The only form of communication was mail,” Taylor said.
Taylor has been residing in Winchester for 13 years with his wife and two children, working for Mansea Metal. He was honorably discharged from the military in 1995, and said he looks back on his career with pride.
“Everyone deserves to be proud of what we did over there,” Taylor said.
He also praised soldiers currently fighting in the Middle East, though he does not like to draw comparisons between the two wars.
“They’re in the same area now, but it’s not the same war. We were in a desert, they’re in towns. I’m not saying that one is easier than the other. We lost Americans in both. Giving your life for your country, that’s the most honorable thing you can do,” Taylor said.
When speaking about his own war experiences, Taylor said that he just did the job he was asked to do, and is happy to have been able to serve.
“It’s the old saying, ‘I earned my pay.’ A lot of guys earned it a lot more than I did, but we did what we were trained to do.”
At 28, Robert Bowman already had eight years of experience in the Marine Corps before he was sent to fight in the Gulf War.
Bowman left Alameda Air Station in Freemont, Calif., Nov. 27, 1990, and arrived in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, just in time for an air raid.
“It was pretty chaotic,” Bowman said.
After two weeks, Bowman left the Al-Jubail air base and moved to Lonesome Dove, also in Jubail. At that time, Lonesome Dove was the biggest rotary air craft base in history, housing approximately 200 aircraft. Bowman served as an air observer, mechanic and gunner on CH53 combat cargo helicopters.
Prior to his deployment, Bowman said that he studied books about the Vietnam War, something that helped him during the fighting.
“It was tough in the very beginning, but then I referred to the books I read,” Bowman said.
There were moments of frustration, like a lack of ammunition that led to soldiers carrying weapons with only one round, and receiving the wrong aircraft parts.
Throughout his tour, Bowman said he was shocked at the atrocities being committed by the Iraqi people.
“Don’t take freedom for granted,” Bowman said.
Bowman was in Saudi Arabia for six months before heading back to California in May of 1991 to work on damaged aircraft.
Adding to an already impressive combat resume, Bowman was deployed for a second time in 2002, serving in Iraq for seven months.
“I knew what I was in for,” Bowman said of his second tour of duty.
In 2004, he was awarded a Commendation Medal and promoted to the rank of master sergeant.