William (Bill) Reynolds was born August 5, 1946 and never could have imagined where he’d be spending his 21st birthday. Most teens grow up expecting to be in Las Vegas or with a bunch of friends at the bars. Not in the middle of the Vietnam War hiding behind rice patties, where Bill eventually spent his 21st birthday.
Reynolds was raised in the San Fernando Valley where he graduated from Cleveland High School in 1964. He decided to attend Pierce College, and worked for General Motors at its Van Nuys plant.
Once he decided to take a break from school, he was instantly drafted into the United States Army on May 17,1966. He was put into the 9th infantry division of Charlie Company.
At such a young age, Bill witnessed things that other people go their whole lives wishing they would never see including bullets whizzing past his head, and mortars just missing his body. It is moments like those that Bill realized the worth of life and the significance of being in the middle of war.
There were several times throughout the war Bill imagined not making it back home. Seeing so many of his friends vanish was heartbreaking. He was just waiting his turn to be taken. He described the sight of the San Fernando Valley on his return home as being something he thought he would never be able to witness ever again. “There were a lot of times I thought I’d never see that scene ever again and when I did, it was fantastic.”
When he returned, settling back into the San Fernando Valley wasn’t the easiest transition. “The transition was strange,” Bill explained. He wasn’t able to talk to many people about his deployments, except for fellow soldiers who had also served. Many people did not want to know about Vietnam and were uninterested.
After returning to the Valley, Bill got his job back at General Motors and with it the politics of organized labor. Bill soon realized being in a union was not for him and found another job working for Lockheed Martin. He loved his new position, because he got to serve his country in a different way than he had before. He worked there until his retirement in August 2001. He continues to live happily with his wife, children and grandchildren, enjoying the simple pleasures of life.