Heroes From the Heart of Virginia: Byron Taylor
Byron Taylor served in the Vietnam War and worked his way up to Sergeant. But decades later, he is still serving his community, but in a different way.
He has dedicated hundreds of hours helping other veterans.
"There were good and bad times. But to me Vietnam was one of the most learning experiences of my life," said U.S. Army Veteran Byron Taylor.
For Taylor, the years 1969 to 1971 marked a milestone.
"There were things that I experienced in Vietnam that I will never forget but the thing that military does is it teaches you discipline. It makes you a much better person," Taylor said.
The Army also taught him to always give back.
When he heard that local veterans were in desperate need of a volunteer to drive them to medical appointments, he didn't hesitate.
"He said we can't get a driver. He said no one wants to do it. I gave him all my contact information and said have someone get in touch with me," Taylor said.
"The patients didn't have any way to get to Salem if they didn't have transportation or didn't have gas money," said Clinic Administrator Brenda Blackstock.
Now, every Thursday, Taylor wakes up before sunrise to drive fellow vets from Danville to Martinsville and then back home in the afternoon.
Taylor has clocked more than 5,000 miles and helped nearly 300 veterans over the last three years.
"I was fortunate enough to come back from Vietnam the same way I went. There are those who come back from not only Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, they did not come back in the same medical condition they left with," Taylor said.
"It's veterans helping veterans, it's wonderful. There is a comradery that you can't find anywhere else," said U.S. Air Force Veteran Debra Klinefelter.
Klinefelter says she wouldn't be able to make the drive on her own and thanks to Taylor, she makes her appointments.
"Proud, proud, that he continues to serve even though he is retired," Klinefelter said.
While Taylor no longer wears a military uniform, he still serves his community.
"Anyone to me anyone that has served is a hero," Taylor concluded.
Taylor hopes that he will one day inspire someone to become a volunteer driver as well.
If you would like to help, you can call Marian McConnell at (540) 855-3460 or Brenda Blackstock at (434) 710-4210, option 3.