View Full Version : My grandfather, Lt. Col. James M. Taylor, ret.

06-28-2005, 15:02
I haven't posted since my intro, and though my grandfather was not SF, I don't believe you guys will mind me posting this.

My grandfather passed away at around 5am, (take off time!) Saturday, June 25th of 2005.

When I was growing up all of my friends had heroes in ball players, tv stars, or comic book characters. My hero wasn't on tv, nor did he shoot laser beams from his eyes. As they say, real heroes don't wear capes.

My hero was my grandfather, James Marsalis Taylor, born Aug. 30 1921 in a small town in Oklahoma. At the age of 18 he married and moved to California to work for (I believe) Lockheed Martin. What I know of that time is he built airplanes, he had learned to fly cropdusters as a teenager and had some familiarity with them.

When WWII broke out, and people started being drafted, he decided to join up on his own, and he joined as an Army Air Corps Cadet. The idea there, he said, was to weed people out, and my understanding is that out of hundreds of people starting in his class, only 70 or so made it through. I would imagine they had a dropout and failure rate at the time comparable with the SF pipeline now.

As a pilot my grandfather lived, and flew all over the world. He has told me numerous stories about the things he did, and though they still leave me in awe of all the peoples lives he saved or affected, my grandfather was likely the most modest man I have ever met.

I will relate one story here, so that you have an idea of what kind of man he was. One day my grandfather was flying paratroopers into (I believe) France. He was pulling a glider filled with marines when, out over the ocean, one of his engines went out. His orders were to drop the glider if that happened and turn back, but my grandfather didn't want to throw away the lives of the men in that glider, as they were too far out for them to survive if he dropped them. His co-pilot argued with him, until he told the man to help or jump. He ordered his crew to start dumping things out of the plane to lighten it, as they were slowly decending. They got so low at some points, that the ocean spray splashed on the cockpit windshields. Luckily my grandfather made it in, dropped them, and then landed the plane on the beach next to the glider. His remaining engine had been wide open since the other had blown and a return trip was not possible. A jeep pulled up with a Lt. Colonel in it who chewed my grandfather up one side and down the other. My uncles tell me that the marines getting out of their glider saw this, and their CO (who I am told was a general though this is all 2nd hand obviously) punched the Colonel in the face for chewing out the man who had just saved lives.

The day this story happened was D-Day, and my grandfather had flown 2 missions that morning before this starting with one in the dark. An internet search once told me that the Air Corps only chose their best pin-point navigation pilots for the missions that morning. I do know that my grandfather was chosen for countless special missions, and landed behind enemy lines 28 times during WWII and many of these were to pick up soldiers, many of whom were, he said, some sort of Special Ops or another. Others, he said, were very likely spies. My uncle tells me he picked up what later became "green berets" though I can't see my grandfather landing to pick up a box of hats, or stopping for girl scout cookies!

Grandpa retired after nearly 30 years in the Air Corps, and then USAF in 1970, and went on to found a real estate company in OKC, and build a "liesure adults" group with his church that is still very successfull.

I want to say that he definitely approved of my decision to join the army with an 18x contract. Unfortunately I was due to leave June 9th. I was told a few days before that he would die within weeks, however, and it was just too important that I be here in the end for me to go then. Luckily my recruiters all understand, and have been extremely generous with their time and comments. Hopefully I will still get to leave this summer, however.

As I said before, my grandfather was my hero. He taught me what it means to be a man and not a boy, and in his eyes how you treat others, especially women, was a very important part of that. I wish I could thank him again for that, as being respected by people around me due to how I treat them is very important to me. I hope that at the end of my life I will be as respected as he is.

One day I hope to end up with my grandfathers flight logs and other military records. If anyone out there knows where I should look for that stuff, I would definitely appreciate any info sent my way.

Lt. Col. James M. Taylor, ret. USAF, is survived by his wife, 3 children, 6 grandchildren, and 4 great grandchildren.

To my grandfather, thank you for your service. Thank you for your imparted wisdom, your love, for baiting my hooks, picking me up when I fell, listening when I needed it, for being my hero, your belief in me, and most of all for teaching me to be a man.

A thank you to you QP's and other military here also for your service, and definitely for your patience and allowing me to post here. As I said, real heroes don't wear capes, and you all definitely count.


The Reaper
06-28-2005, 17:17

Congrats and condolences.

BTW, there were no Marines coming ashore in gliders, or at Normandy. There were no gliders or planes down soft on the beach that I am aware of, but it sounds like he was a hero, nonetheless.

Good luck!


06-28-2005, 18:08
I'm not a QP so my words on this site are worth the 111's and 000's needed to display them. I am, however, someone who aspires to be the type of fellow your grandfather was (and what my father is and grandfathers and great-uncles were). We are fortunate to have had elders who schooled us on what it means to be a gentleman. That's a fine obituary Yoshi. My condolences for your loss.

Goggles Pizano
06-28-2005, 20:28
Condolence on your loss.

06-28-2005, 21:12
my condolences...

06-28-2005, 21:28
Sorry for your loss. RIP

06-28-2005, 21:46
Very sorry for your loss Yoshi, he sounds like he was a wonderful Man. May he Rest in Peace.

06-28-2005, 22:17
My condolences. Keep his memory fresh.

06-29-2005, 00:29
Sounds like he was one of the "good guys", even though he was an aviator.

Blue skies:

Rest In Peace:

07-01-2005, 10:36
Thanks all.

That story is an old one and likely as a child I didn't get it quite right. I do know that he left the air corps after about 7 years and was out for a few years teaching flight school, but they weren't making enough money so he went back but to the USAF.

On his DD-214 from the USAF it shows a few of the medals he had, 1 silver star and 3 bronze. He didn't always tell anyone when he got awarded a medal, and he always gave them away or threw them away so we have no clue what else he had but I was told I can get a shadow box for him and all the medals he earned will either be in it, or I can buy them and put them in it as there will be a list.

My grandmother will like that I think. It also shows he got in trouble once due to his mouth. Grandma laughed at that and said that during the war he might have been promoted faster but he figured his chances of dying were good enough that he "told it like he saw it" regardless of what his superiors thought haha.

Anyway the funeral was good, and the USAF honor guard came out and did their thing and presented grandma with a flag. He would have liked that.

Sadly his sisters brother was there wearing a 2 star general uniform plastered with medals he never earned (like the rank) and an SF tab on the right arm. The guy gave a OK governor named Walters (12 years ago or so) about 25k and was given a letter saying he could wear the 1 star uniform without consequences while Walters was in office. He still wears it and has since promoted himself. I would think he would have been happy with the Col. rank he retired with heh. That provided no end of laughter at the funeral, but I bet my grandpa rolled over once or twice before he was layed to rest. I wish I knew if there was something that could be done about that, I couldn't even talk to the man as I didn't want to be rude.