Don Taylor served in the Navy during the Vietnam War; he is also a retired New Mexico Honor Guard commander. He regularly donates to the Rio Rancho Police Department.
(Amy Byres/ Rio Rancho Observer)

A Vietnam veteran has donated a little piece of his past to the Rio Rancho Police Department.

Don Taylor is a retired New Mexico Honor Guard commander. He has made numerous donations, the latest being his ceremonial bugle.

This bugle contains a speaker that plays a track, so no musical skill is required.

He “played” the bugle for about 15 years before his friend, RRPD’s retired police chief Robert Boone, learned it was a recording.

“He always thought I played it. He said, ‘Oh, God, Don, you play it real good.’ Yeah, OK, OK,” Taylor said.

Taylor joined the Rio Rancho Honor Guard when he moved to City of Vision in 1997, and then later helped found the New Mexico Honor Guard.

About five years ago, the New Mexico Honor Guard dissolved, Taylor said. Since then, he donated what he could to the Rio Rancho Police Honor Guard.

RRPD Capt. David Kent, “The donations he has made to us have greatly helped our own honor guard, and our Explorers post to provide a good service and quality service to the community.”

Taylor said he donated to RRPD because the honor guard is active in the community and the department sponsors organizations like the Explorers program.

He has donated uniforms, jackets, hats, money and a van. Each donation has a story of why he donated.

Taylor’s largest donation — the van — was originally given to the New Mexico Honor Guard. At the time, the honor guard used its own transportation to attend funerals across New Mexico, until he met with a friend in Farmington about a van.

It was donated to the honor guard with the condition that it would never be sold, only given.

“They said, ‘Well, Taylor and the honor guard always did funerals for us when nobody else would come,’ so they said, ‘We will give them the van,’ and that van at the time was worth close to $15,000,” he said.

RRPD uses the van to transfer cadets between the police academy and police station. It is also available for the Explorers, which teaches young adults from the ages 14-20 what it’s like to have a career with RRPD.

Taylor’s next donation will be funding for patches given to the Explorers.

Taylor’s son is a big reason why he wants to donate to the Explorers. His son is handicapped and could not participate in the way kids can today, Taylor said.

He donates to make sure money does not stop someone from an experience.

“Children are important to me,” Taylor said. “They may find that they can’t afford to do different things and that does not make for a good thing.”

To thank Taylor for all of his donations, RRPD gave him a shadowbox containing an American flag, an Explorer patch, RRPD Honor Guard and badge patches and a department challenge coin.

Kent said the gift was “to honor him for his dedication to the Rio Rancho community, our agency and to commemorate his time in the U.S. military.”

Assistant Editor at Rio Rancho Observer