PROGRESS: We are all Brothers
Published 6:00 am Saturday, February 29, 2020
Throughout Charlotte County resident Douglas Randolph’s 78 years, the military veteran has made a name for himself.
One of 15 children, he doesn’t talk much about the details of his time in the military, if you were to see Randolph out and about today, you will quickly recognize him with his trademark sunglasses on and proudly wearing his Vietnam veteran coat and Bronze Star hat.
“The military really opens your eyes to what’s around the world and the different types of people,” Randolph said. “Everybody is not good. I’ve had people call me a baby killer for the time that I spent in Vietnam, but after so long, you’re not going to put up with it.”
Randolph spent 37 months in Vietnam gaining a Bronze Star along the way.
“What happened to us (soldiers) shouldn’t have happened to anybody, but when you sign that oath, you go where they tell you to go, or you go to jail, and I don’t look good in stripes or orange,” he laughed.
Randolph was born and raised in Charlotte County and, at the early age of 9, began working in the tobacco fields, followed by sawmills.
At 16, Randolph says he dropped out of school, and by 19, he was living in New York.
It was in New York that he found his way to the recruiting office.
“They asked me what I wanted to do, and I said I wanted to be a heavy equipment operator,” he explained.
In 1962 Randolph joined the United States Army. It was in the Army Randolph says he was able to see the world, get his GED, obtain two degrees, start a business and move up the ranks.
“The Army gave me a chance,” he said. I was a high school dropout that was given an opportunity.”
Randolph also talked of the bond he made during his time in the Army with his fellow soldiers.
“Black or white, it did not matter,” he said. “It still does not matter. We are all brothers.”
When Randolph returned from his time in Vietnam, he met his wife of 42 years, Nora.
“She was a Godsend,” he said.
Sadly, Randolph’s wife passed away in 2011.
In all, Randolph spent 26 years in the U.S. Army retiring as a Sergeant Major in August 1988.
Today, the veteran can be found volunteering his time to help other veterans in need.
“When a veteran goes off to war, they don’t go by themselves,” he added. “The family is involved too. When they leave home, things don’t stop. So, anything I can do to better the life of a service person I do.”
When it comes to helping, Randolph spends his time with the American Legion Post 260, VFW Post 8902, The Piedmont Area Veterans Council, Piedmont Alcohol Safety Action Program and the Adult Literacy Program in Charlotte County.