Ottie Clay Taulman of Lakehills, Texas died Friday, January 15, 2021.
Graveside memorial service will be held at Sunset Memorial Gardens, Odessa, Texas, Monday, January 25, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. The Reverend Jan Reed, St. Luke’s Methodist Church of Midland will officiate. Military dignitaries and members of the Colorado National Guard will attend in affirmation of Clay’s outstanding leadership and accomplishments.
Survivors are: Mother, Billie Taulman Merriman; daughter, Madelynn Maria Taulman; aunt, Betty Tollin; half-sisters, Rebecca Smith, and Sharon Taulman.
The world was changed on November 21, 1965 when Clay Taulman was born to his father, Ottie Lloyd Taulman, and mother, Billie F Bullock at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa, TX.
The world was changed again on January 15, 2021 when Clay’s illustrious life ended.
Young Clay was destined for greatness, starting life off as the first newborn to receive a passport in Odessa Medical Center Hospital’s history. Clay, a one-month old baby, was on his way to becoming a citizen of the world as Mobil Oil Company had a new home for his family in Libya. Three years later Lagos, Nigeria became home, and Clay began his learning journey in the international school where his mom also taught.
Two years later Dad Ottie, Mobil’s international import/export manager, accepted a transfer to Las Palmas, Canary Island, where Clay became fluent in Spanish, rescuing his Mom when she needed help in communicating with their housekeeper. On to Doula, Cameroon, for 2.5 years where Clay became fluent in French; a repeat stint in Lagos, Nigeria for three years, followed by yet another move…this time to Lhokseumawe, Indonesia.
In 1981 Littleton, Colorado became the Taulman family’s home. Clay went into the 10th grade in Arapaho High School where he learned the fine art of sportsmanship and became an outstanding basketball player, receiving full ride scholarships to three colleges in his junior year. Clay also excelled in golf. As a high school senior, he won “closest to the hole” in a golf tournament sponsored by the local Society of Petroleum Engineers and earned a five-day vacation to Puerto Vallarta. It was his second ‘‘closest to the hole” win in a week!
Clay knew he wanted to be a “military man”. The Army was his goal. At age 17, a junior in high school, he went to visit the local Army recruiting station. With so many offers from outstanding colleges, his parents were stunned when they heard his goals. Billie, his mom, says she told him, “Absolutely not. Your parents have college degrees. That piece of paper takes you to important places in this world.” Clay’s reply: “Mom and Dad, I don’t want to disappoint you, but I’m not really interested in doing that. I want to join the Army.”
Clay was not deterred. Neither were his parents. A promise was made: Mom and Dad would sign the papers for him to join the Army as an underage volunteer. Clay’s part of the deal: he would serve four years, then come home and graduate from college. Six days after high school graduation, a military recruiter picked Clay up and dropped him off at the airport. Clay was on the way to basic training at Ft. Knox, KY.
Clay kept his promise, despite urging from Army higher-ups for him to stay in but promised his Colonel that he would stay in the (National) Guard and return to the Army. With a BS in Political Science, graduating magna cum laude from the University of Colorado, Clay returned to the Army four years later.
Colonels, soldiers from the battlefield, and many who worked alongside him, or came under Clay’s military command mourn his death. At the end “Clay suffered so much because he carried so much,” stated his “brother” Sean Flynn who lives to tell Clay’s story. “PTSD is real, and people need to understand that. Clay fought it to the end. It’s the only battle he didn’t get to finish and win."
Three units of 650 men each were led by Clay in the Iraqi war. “They were my brothers and I brought every one of them home without injury…no deaths and no wounded. That’s the thing I’m most proud of,” Clay told his mom a few days before he died.
Colonel Kenneth Lull and Colonel Al Morris phoned Billie to tell her that Clay always performed above all expectations. “Clay never gave 100%; he always gave 125%. When we gave him an assignment, we knew it would be carried out with outstanding achievement. We always called each other “Brothers” when we said our good-byes”. In these COVID-19 days, soldiers who would have been present for full military honors funeral rites have expressed their disappointment at being unable to be present for Clay’s funeral. With much appreciation from Ottie Clay’s family, Colonel Kenneth Lull has flown in from New Hampshire to attend the funeral. Both Colonel Kenneth Lull and Colonel Al Morris were instrumental in Ottie’s military service for 30 years. They have been wonderful friends and brothers to LTC Ottie Taulman.
Since Clay’s death, soldiers who served with him have told family members, “Clay had a calling to the military. He believed all of us were his “brothers”. He would rather serve than be served. He always looked for the person who needed help and wherever he went he did his best to make things better than he found them.”
With 50 parachute jumps under his belt, 1,950 “brothers” returned home, and after hosting America’s President George W. Bush and Pentagon officials who were on flight tours in Iraq, thirty-two years after that departure to Ft. Knox, KY, on April 17, 2017, Clay retired from the Army saying good-bye with 100% service-connected disability from PTSD. With his new best friend, DACO, the service dog that shadowed his every footstep, and loving support from family and his “brothers”, Clay fought bravely the PTSD that haunted his days and night. As always, he remembered others who were traveling the same road. Finding help for himself with Wounded Warriors, he became a mentor to soldiers who were struggling to put behind themselves the nightmares that kept them from building new lives.
Today Clay rests in the peace that passes all understanding. God is his refuge and strength. May it be so for all of us who knew and loved Clay Taulman.
The family would like to express their gratitude to the team at Vitas Hospice and Palliative Care, San Antonio, Texas.