Vietnam vet, veteran advocate dies at 74

SIGNAL FILE PHOTO: Bill Reynolds, formerly The Signal's Director of Veterans Affairs

Valencia resident William L. Reynolds, a Vietnam veteran and advocate for Santa Clarita Valley’s veterans, died recently at the age of 74 due to complications following heart surgery.

Born in Texas in 1946, Reynolds primarily grew up in the San Fernando Valley before being drafted into the U.S. Army just before his 20th birthday.

Reynolds served in the Charlie Company of the 4th/47th, 9th Infantry Division, becoming one of the famous “Boys of ’67” as chronicled in the 2012 book by Dr. Andrew Wiest and the basis of a National Geographic documentary, “Brothers in War,” which premiered in 2014.

“I’ve known Bill for many years, and I’ve always admired him and appreciated him for his strength and leadership in this community in a variety of ways on so many issues,” former Santa Clarita Councilman Bob Kellar said. “He was a very strong leader in our community, but particularly when it came to not only our active members of the military, but all of our veterans. And he has done so much in this community to help recognize and appreciate our veterans — he was the guy who was at the lead. … I just am sickened by his loss, and of course, our prayers are with his family and his wife.” 

Bill Reynolds displays updated drawings of the proposed warrior memorial as he stands at it’s new proposed location under the trees at the corner of Newhall and Market Street at veterans historical plaza in Newhall in July 2016. DAN WATSON

As president of the Santa Clarita Valley Veterans Memorial Inc., Reynolds continuously worked to advocate for his fellow veterans and was the man behind the establishment of the Fallen Warrior Monument, a memorial wall honoring the SCV’s military veterans, both known and unknown, at Veterans Historical Plaza in Newhall.

Reynolds spent two years searching through The Signal’s archives to find accounts of SCV residents who died during conflicts defending their nation, finding nearly 50 to memorialize on the granite monument.

“The intent is to honor all known and unknown Santa Clarita Valley residents who perished in war since World War I,” Reynolds said of the wall in a previous Signal interview. “We never forget our fallen warriors. They lost all of their tomorrows for all of our todays.”

SCV Veteran Bill Reynolds speaks at a Memorial Day event at the Eternal Valley Cemetery Monday morning to honor fallen veterans. May 25, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

R.J. Kelly, another local veterans advocate and retired member of the Marine Corps, recalled having what he referred to as “the typical military sparring sessions” with Reynolds regarding the Army versus Marines. 

“That’s what drew us close,” Kelly said. “We’re both very much committed to reaching out and assisting our communities, and so where Bill went above and beyond was really getting involved with our local veterans (and) coming up with different assistance programs. … We were both committed to veterans, and now we will be committed to his legacy to hopefully see that that carries on in the community.”

Formerly The Signal’s director of veterans affairs, Reynolds helped to tell the stories of the war heroes who resided here in the SCV.

“Bill Reynolds has been instrumental in helping to capture and document the personal stories of local veterans,” said Albert Rodriguez, Santa Clarita Veteran Services Collaborative president. “We are thankful for the work that he has done to help preserve those histories and educate the community about the dedication and service of our neighbors.”

“Bill, you were one of my best friends and a true American hero, and I can’t tell you how much we will all miss you,” Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, wrote in a social media post Monday. “He single-handedly did so much for veterans in the Santa Clarita Valley and for thousands around him. My prayers of support go to Meg and Bill’s family and friends as we all deal with this tragic loss. Rest in peace ‘Amigo.’” 

Reynolds also assisted many SCV veterans in getting the opportunity to visit historical sites around the world for momentous occasions, including meeting with President Donald Trump at a Vietnamese hotel in Da Nang for the signing of a proclamation recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War and traveling to Pearl Harbor with survivors of that fateful day.
“America was founded on courage to fight for freedom, and that’s what the veteran community does — they take pride in that,” Reynolds said in a previous Signal interview. “Once you served, you’re in a brotherhood for life, and we honor each other. There’s no better family than the veteran community.”

President Trump with Bill Reynolds, Vietnam Veterans November Program. Courtesy photo

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