PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Colonel Porcher L. Taylor, Jr. is a remarkable and decorated war hero who has called Petersburg home for the past 40 years.
“I have a patriotic spot in my heart for this country of ours,” he said.
But Taylor said decades in the military didn’t come without its challenges.
“This country, in the beginning, was not very nice to me or anybody who looked like me,” Taylor explained.
Taylor’s service spanned three wars — World War II, Korea and Vietnam — and is worn like badges of honor on his hat.
Throughout those three wars, Taylor served in both the Navy and the Army — volunteering for the Navy at just 18 years-old and then drafted into the Army a few years later.
He said he only feared death one time: When he was put behind a machine gun in Guam that he hadn’t been trained on.
“That’s a dangerous weapon,” he said. “You can kill a whole lot of people.”
Taylor said he was never trained on the heavy weaponry because he was black. Serving before and during the Civil Rights movement, Taylor said he worked to empower and promote African Americans in the military.
“When I first came in as an enlisted man and then later as an officer, the big difference was, I suppose as an officer I could do something about it because I was in charge,” Taylor said.
Taylor left the military after three decades, going on to have a successful career in Academia.
He was one of the first black men to earn a PHD from the University of South Carolina, served as vice president at Virginia State University, founded the Petersburg chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen and even wrote a book.
“Well, I’m 92 and I don’t have too much time left,” he said. “Im not stupid enough not to believe that.”
The Virginia Press Association named Col. Taylor the Virginian of the Year in 2014.