MANHATTAN (KSNT) – Originally from Mississippi, First Sergeant Carl Taylor made Manhattan, Kansas his home after being inspired by the dedication from fellow servicemen in Fort Riley, and falling in love with the local community.

Today, he’s using the skills he learned from his time in the service, to give back to the place he now calls home. In Mount Zion Family Worship Center, you’ll find Senior Pastor Carl Taylor. A member for 26 years now, Taylor is at the forefront of bringing those in the community together.

“Every day we work to strive to make our community better,” Taylor said. “Especially in our country today as divided as it is, we should be the people that stand in the middle and help everyone on both sides, the left and the right, to make our community a better place to live for everyone.” 

Coming from a large family, Taylor originally viewed joining the military as a way to make it through college.

“That was the door I needed to walk through to join,” he said. “I initially thought I would only be in 3 years, and ended up serving 20 years 12 days.” 

During those two decades, Taylor served as an artilleryman; he would travel alongside infantrymen, providing support when engaging enemy strongholds.

“We will fly slightly above the treetops of the vehicles, we would land, they would drop the artillery piece,” Taylor said. “The soldiers would get off to the left or the right, we’d drop the base plate, fire the rockets, two to four, provide suppressing fire or we eliminate the enemy. Then the infantry soldier or armored soldiers continue to go forward and fight and win the battle on the battlefield.”  

After 27 News talked with Taylor, how much he values being selfless really shines through.

“That leadership and that giving of ourselves, that’s something that should be embedded in every American, that we want to make our country better,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re black, if you’re white, if you’re Hispanic or whatever the pigmentation of your skin is. You want to make it better.” 

To this day, he’s using the skills he developed through his 20 years in the military to improve his local community.

“Every fire mission is being evaluated, ones that went well, ones that didn’t go well,” Taylor said. “The maintenance on the vehicle, it being broken down. You’re looking at that and you think that’s just something that you can use in the military, but you bring it to real life. Everything you do, you look at what went well and what went bad. You look at yourself and be honest with yourself, how can I make this better? If we’re not making it better, why do it.”  

One way that Taylor and Mt. Zion Church work to make the Manhattan community better is through a weekly food drive. It started up back in 2020, and just like Veteran Salute it’s held every Wednesday. That drive helps around 40 people every week.