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John J. Taylor
John J. Taylor
(1920 - 2005)
859th BS Operations Officer
Life before the War
John Taylor was born and raised in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. His parents were John Willis and Maude Mordt Taylor. He was definitely an outdoorsman as he loved hunting, fishing, camping and was active in the Boy Scouts.
After graduating from high school in 1938, John spent the next three years attending the University of Wisconsin. With the urging of a friend, John decided to drop out of college and joined the Army Air Corps Cadet Program. His plan was to become a commercial airline pilot after serving a short stint with the military. He was commissioned as Second Lieutenant at graduation in May 1941.
Training and Service Record
Army Air Corps Cadet Program
Kelly Field, TX
Graduated Class 41-E
May; Commissioned Second Lieutenant
Fighter Squadron
Randolph Field, CA
12th AntiSubmarine Sqd: B-18, B-24, B-25; Langley Field, VA
17 Sep; 12th AS moved to Blythe, CA
1 Oct; redesignated 492nd BG
acting Air Executive
3 Nov 43; AFSAT Orlando, FL
1 Jan; Alamogordo, NM
assigned to 859th BS
appointed Operations Officer
Apr; moved to North Pickenham, UK
10 Aug; transferred to 467th BG Rackheath, UK
assigned to 788th BS
16 Aug; shot down during training exercise
14 Nov; Appointed 788th Squadron Commander
Promoted Major
Jun; returned to US
Sep; discharged from service
Note: This record is far from complete and some dates are questionable. We will add to it as new information comes our way.
Service with the 12th Anti-Submarine Squadron
Pearl Harbor changed everything. He was immediately sent to Randolph Field, California as a fighter pilot to defend the US from possible Japanese attacks. Shortly thereafter he was transferred to Langley, Virginia, to serve with the 12th Anti-Submarine Squadron to help defend the Atlantic coast.
Initially he conducted his patrols flying fighter planes. With no bombs or death charges, John said they couldn't have attacked a sub if they had found one. But they could report the location so that bombers or destroyers could be dispatched. Later, the 12 AS switched to flying B-18s. During the later half of 1943, the Navy took over the anti-submarine patrols off America's coast. John, along with many others of the 12th Anti-Submarine Squadron, was transferred to the 492nd BG.
Combat Service with the 492nd Bomb Group
This new group existed only on paper as the former 12th AS became its cadre source. Therefore, John was one of the original originals of Group. His particapation in organizing the new group was invaluable. John wore many hats during the early months of the 492nd before being appointed Operations Officer for the 859th Bomb Squadron.
At North Pickenham, John took his turn flying combat missions with the other staff commanders. His courage and leadership was an inspiration for his men to follow. When the Group was disbanded in August due to the high casualty rate, John went with his squadron to the 467th BG at Rackheath where they became re-designated as the 788th BS.
Combat Service with the 476th Bomb Group
On 16 August, shortly after arriving to Rackheath, John led a training exercise to get his replacement crews in better shape. After they had dropped their practice bombs, John ordered the crews to test fire their guns. A run-a-way machine gun from another plane shot his down. John and four others surived as the other six men were killed. For more information, see the Prewitte Crash link at right.
John was badly burned in the accident but recovered in time to assume command of the Squadron on 14 November when his former commander, James Mahoney, was promoted to Group Deputy Commander. His new appointment earned him the promotion to Major.
The near-death experience did not keep John out of the air, let alone from combat. He flew twelve more bombing missions. While his squadron had suffered high casualties with the 492nd BG, they had much easier with the 467th BG. His squadron ended up having the lowest casualties within the 2nd Air Division while producing one of the best records in bombing results. Without a doubt, John's leadership certainly contributed to such a feat.
After the war
The war changed John's ambitions to become a commercial airline pilot. Before the war there was a shortage of qualified pilots. But now airlines had tens of thousands of good pilots to choose from. John took advantage of the GI Bill and returned to college. He graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in business. John worked for McClough Steel Company in Detroit for 20 years and then at Payco American Company for 12 years. He retired in 1983.
John married Paula Mayer in 1946. Together they raised three sons. They were divorced in 1965. A couple years after John retired, he married Elsie Gray. She was a widow with three daughters. Although John's family didn't live the Brady Bunch life, they did become one big happy family.
Through out his life, John remained loyal to his passion for the outdoors. He continued to hunt and fish. In later life, he added golf to his hobbies. He shared his knowledge by actively serving over thirty years with the Boy Scouts of America. For his dedicated service, the BSA presented him the Silver Beaver Award and inducted into their National Court of Honor.
John also had a strong faith in God and his fellow man. He served as a teacher, Elder and Deacon for the First Presbyterian Church.
After retirement John also developed a small business cutting firewood, something he used to do as a young man with his father. It was a perfect business for him as it let him outside while providing a service for his fellow man. And it was seasonal thus giving him plenty of free time to do other things. On 23 June 2005, John was killed in a freak accident while felling a tree. Even though he had been doing everything safely by the book, bad luck happened to find him in the wrong place and the wrong time. Like it did for so many of his men in the 492nd.
More Info
Crew 916
by Robin Janton
June 23, 2005
467th BG
JJ Taylor
CO 788th BS
467th BG
Rackheath 1945
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Page last modified Wednesday, June 22, 2011.