JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Every student who’s ever studied at the Quillen College of Medicine knows him.
Doug Taylor has been a part of the school since it opened.
But some of them might not know that decades ago, Taylor left family and home to fight in a war on the other side of the world.
“The Army was good to me,” Taylor told News Channel 11. “The Army changed my life. It really grew me up and taught me an awful lot of things.”
Taylor has one photo from his 11 months in Vietnam from January to November 1970. Getting pictures was the last thing on his mind, he said.
“I was what you call a straight leg grunt,” he said. “I was an Infantryman.”
After enrolling at East Tennessee State University, the Morristown native got his draft notice the day after Christmas 1969. Within weeks, he was sent to the Đức Phổ Base Camp.
“We did patrols, ambushes, set up defensive positions, worked our forward fire bases, rode around on helicopters and other unsavory things.”
Taylor saw intense fighting. Like many who served in Vietnam, it’s something he would rather not discuss.
“I got no bullet holes, no shrapnel,” he said. “I stayed away from all that somehow. The Lord let me just lay low, I guess.”
But Taylor says everyone who came home from Vietnam carries invisible scars.
“When you see the brutality of war…it’s got to affect you,” he said.
After Vietnam, Taylor came home to East Tennessee and returned to finish his degree at ETSU. In 1974, he joined the brand new Quillen College of Medicine and oversaw admissions of the very first class.
Taylor has admitted every class since.
“A lot of students come here wanting this personal touch,” he said. “We give it to them. It’s we call it ‘the Quillen family.'”
The associate dean for admissions says he’s proud that Quillen College of Medicine ranks near the top for admitting veterans.
“We’re happy to help them live their dream,” he said. “They’ve served us. It’s our pleasure to serve them back. After all, look where we live – here on this hallowed ground, here on this VA. You can’t help but be moved by that”
Taylor is one of many veterans serving in our region long after they stopped wearing the uniform.