After much research and waiting and waiting for months for records to be pulled from St. Louis Archives I received a multitude of my dad’s military records. Many of these records had burn marks, portions were also gone due to the fire that took place back in the day, but all in all I was able to piece together a great deal of information.
What was not shown was the ship he took from Florida after basic training to Australia. This was one area that my dad could not remember over the last 5 years of my intense questioning. All he knew was it was the same one he took from Florida to Australia and then onwards to the South Pacific Islands. The ship he was on in the convoy of ships heading there encountered heavy bombing. The ship that dad was on was blown up out of the water. He recalled that terrible time spending four hours in the cold waters and seeing many of his Army buddies from boot camp be eaten by sharks. When he recalled this time it literally sent chills up his spin as well as my own spin. He recalled having to take his army dungaree’s off to use as a flotation device to stay afloat until one of the other ships in the group picked up the live bodies out of the cold water.
Think about being in that water seeing sharks and their “Black” eyes as he recalled circling each person before they took their lives. My dad was fortunate during this time as he remained calm in the water as to not kick his legs to draw attention to himself. The sharks did however attack several of his buddies becuase they were scared and kept kicking their legs to tread water with their hands and feet. When dad was awoken aboard the ship when the ship was hit, all he had on was his pants. No socks, shirt or shoes. There was no time to grab anything he recalled. He made it to the deck and had to jump into the water and get far enough out to prevent from being taken down from the tow of the water pulling the ship under. I shudder as I write this out even now. All he could do was keep his wit about him and remember the part of his training about what to do if you ended up in the ater in the ocean. Wit and common sense as well as being scared to death seeing black eyed sharks all around. For those sharks this was a feast. My dad laughed when he said that because he himself was only 120 pounds and was only 5 foot 7 inches. Imagine that size in your head and yes he was compared to many men of that era to be a small man. He was barely 20 years of age facing death not from the enemy he was sent to fight, but from sharks just waiting for him to move so they could have a free meal of human flesh. He was very fortunate that he did not obtain any cuts on his way off the ship or by running into debris of the blown up ship that would be floating in the waters he was in. Had he been cut and was bleeding, not having any means other then his pants to keep him afloat, those sharks would have smelled the blood. He knew of his own studies what sharks were like, but to be that close to them almost face to face at times would have been terrifying to a 20 year old man who had never been near an ocean. Lakes have fish, swimming holes in Bell County Kentucky had fish, snakes of various varieties that he knew which ones would be poisonous to encounter. But to a barley 20 year old man to be now facing sharks is something that no word can explain.
By the time the last ship arrived after battling off the planes or submarines that had attacked the fleet he was with was four hours of living hell. He recalled after the ship arrived he had to go up the ships ladder to get aboard and then to be taken to get warm clothing, socks, shoes a shirt to put on and was able to get some hot coffee. He said all he could do was keep his fear to himself. He had to maintain his dignity, be a man not some whimpering soldier. This is what people now refer to as PTSD for many who lived not just through the war, seeking out the enemy and killing them before you got shot or worse stabbed or even worse your throat cut and left for dead. While listening to his stories from his time in that war in what he called a war that should never have happened, I myself imagined everything he was talking about while I was writing, taking those notes and looking at his face, his expressions and his fear that still haunted him all those years later even up to the day before his death on 16 July 2013.
Going back to his Military records. My dad advanced from an enlisted mant to a private after traing and to become a Platoon Sergeant while in those islands. My dad had no qualms whatsoever to kill what was termed “Gooks” as they were referred to in his day of WW 2. He said the army taught him to kill. Taught him the ways to try and stay safe. Taught him the ways to shield himself when he was personally under attack. Them men of his Platton followed my father into the jungles. They would sneak up on the enemy being ever so quiet making no sounds as they walked. Then they would begin shooting without any form of emotion as the Army trained them this way. Many of you who may read this will think that his actions would have fallen under war crimes. This is what my dad always held in his mind to the day he died. He would not allow me to obtain his Military records for fear if they were read while they were being copied that he would be accused of War Crimes. He said he could not at his age of nearly 90 go thru a trial for such a thing. HE believed that he was trained and sent there to KILL, take no prisoners but to kill the enemy as they killed so many men at Pearl Harbor. He said when the news of the bombardment at Pearl Harbor took place and he heard it on the radio while working at Mengal’s woodworking in Louisville Kentucky where he had moved up to right out of high school from what is now the Old Bell County High School which is located in Bell County Kentucky. He said to me that he said to some of the men at the shop that he had never heard of Pearl Harbor while he was in school.This was not brought up in the teachings of that day for Geography or in any form of Historical venue even though it was the place where Navy Ships all were at during this time period. Right then and there in January after work he went downtown to the Airforce office to sign up, but since he was too short by their requirements he was placed in the Army and his Cousin Norris enlisted in to the Airforce as he was taller then dad. Norris and dad was raised by their grandparents Thomas Taylor and Martha Jane Taylor, nee Vaughn. They lived between from time to time Bell County and Rose Hill Virgina,White Shoals, Virginia and had family also in Harlan County Kentucky where his great grandfather William Riley Taylor had been brought to from the North Carolina area to what was once called Mt. Pleasant now known as Harlan, Harlan County Kentucky. My dad’s great grandpa who he never met as he died in 1902 or 04 off the top of my head had owned property that he purchased from his father Jessie Irvin Taylor. Jessie had served in the war of 1812 in the North Carolina area. He settled there there for a short bit and met and married Nancy Lundy. In some records her middle name is Marky or Mark, but they married in her area and they settled down. Since Jessie’s service was over he had heard of land in Kentucky, so he picked up his new family and traversed to Kentucky with a family named Davidson. While they had horse and wagons in that time span they also ended up having several children before leaving North Carolina.They had a couple in what we know as Virginia. Some born and died at child birth, no names were ever given to them but one set of twins. That would be my great great grandpa William Riley Taylor’s siblings. Their names were Benjamin and Griffith Taylor. Benjamin died prior to Grief as he was called throughout his own life. When Jessie and Nancy arrived in Mt. Pleasant, Kentucky one of their daughters also named Nancy fell in love with one of the Davidson’s boys. They married and then she left her family and traveled out west to settle land and to raise her own family in what was still considered Indian Territory for the most part. Jessie had recieved a land grant for 200 hundred acre in Mt Pleasant and also received 40 acreas in Missouri later on. He sold those acres in Missouri as he was in his mind to old to pick up his family and go settle the land there. HE stayed and maintained in Harlan County finishing raising his large family seeing them get married and some moving out of the area to adjoing Counties that had been formed. Since William Riley was the eldest of the children , he purchsed from Jessie the acreage that his father had, 200 acreas is and was a great deal of land back then to settle, make gardens to grow food, have cattle to raise to feed his family and provide fresh milk for his children and some grandchildren that had been born. Since Jessie had grown older with William being the first born, William did puchase the property but they never got around to perfecting the bond. In order for William to do this after his father’s death accured suddenly while he was in what we know at the Barboursville area of Kentucky, William had to take the legal way. So he had to list out all of his siblings in a court filing. Listing out those who had died intestate, those who did not want to go against William as they knew, I myself surmise, and in the listing of his siblings one of his brothers names was listed as Irvin Taylor Jr. This is what I refer to as an ah ha moment as their has been this nagging question since I received this information from Frankfort Kentucky archives many yearas ago. So was Jessie’s name Irvin Jesse Taylor. Yes his name has been spelled with the e at the end and also with an ie at the end. As the writer of my lineage I choose to use the ie at the end of his name. Many who I researched with who are a group of about 20-30 back in the late 1990’s to the early 2000’s were Ancestry’s researchers of that particular area. I myself not being raised in the Bell and Harlan County areas was very lucky to fall into this group of ladies and gentlemen whose families not only grew up there but many of them to this day still lives in the area and so do their children and grandchildren.Within the Tri-State areas of Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee you will today find many of these intermarried descendants there sharing their families history so eloquently and they have the actual proof since they grew up in the areas and lived what trials and tribulations over the last 100 years, lending to their children and grandchildren and great grandchildren of today.
While this story of my lineage is not whole in this writing, future writings will delve into more detail about each child of Jessie and of William, his last born son Thomas who went by Tom to some and Big Tom to many in Bell County area and also to Williams other siblings as well. With each child of Jesse and Nancy having upwards of 15 children or more, and the renameing of these children also being named after their uncle’s and Aunts and every William Riley Taylor himself, this makes for many many more writings for me as the author to re-compile from notebooks from 20 years, from documentation located via Ancesty site I have been a proud monthly paying customer since 2001. At some point in my writings I will also engage of the DNA aspect and my search for my father’s biological father whom he never knew, the relationships of many of my dad’s great Aunts and Uncles and of those children who were bornout of wedlock. For many people they do not like having their family skeletons to be pulled out of the dark shadows of closets, those secrets that many of the children did not know but later found out. The twist and turns of life back in the early and late 1800’s into the 1900’s and some into the 2020’s and lastley into the 2021 century that we now all share together. Remember when reading my writings, my sources will be added at somepoint and time as I clear my thoughts and have to look over to my Ancestry tree to have all the correct dates for each individual, their paper documentation and yes all the wonderful pictures I will place that I have been so fortunate to find from those good souls in the Genealogy groups that I hold so dear. But most of all to those men and woman who helped me to fill in the blanks, sort out the re-naming of children over and over again ! Till I write again in a few days, I hope you have enjoyed my compilations of my vast eastern Kentucky relatives with whom I wished I was born earlier then 1958 so I myself could really learn many truths, the sorted details and most of all the Skeleton’s that have been hidden away for nearly 2 centuries.. Till then I leave you with your own wonderings from your imagination of what I am writing for your enjoyement and for your own part of history that I myself took to like a dog with a bone and shook many people minds, souls and located to sorted and unsorted truths from 200 years on the making and my 25 years in the making also.