Story of Had Taylor

HOMEFRONT PRISONERS OF WAR THOMAS K. OLIVER (USAAF)      Tom Oliver in 2009      Oliver photos 2012 PETER DAHLBERG (ARMY)      December 7, 1941      Friends for Life      He Took My Place       Christmas Lights HAROLD TAYLOR (USAAF)      Story of Had Taylor STAN LIEBERMAN (ARMY)     Story of Stan Lieberman LESTER SNYDER (USAAF)       Durkee's Crew WARREN FAGERLAND (ARMY) EJI SUYAMA (ARMY)      My Combat in the 442nd HARRY NOLLSCH (ARMY)        Harry Nollsch       Taps Delayed       The Purple Heart FRANK MORAWA (GERM. ARMY)        Life of Frank Morawa LOYD BRANDT (MARINES)      Reluctant Heroes       Brothers in Arms JERRY TEACHOUT (USAAF)       Leaving Home for WWII CHUCK CHILDS (USAAF)       I Flew the Big One      Combat Mission 15      Riding Rails before WW2 HARRY PUTNAM (NAVY)       Veterans STEVEN WARREN (NAVY) GORDON LEASE (COAST GUARD) CLARENCE CARSNER (ARMY) WALLY DAHLQUIST (USAAF) GEORGE W. LARSON (NAVY) ALAN HERBERT (ARMY) RICHARD PERKINS (MARINES)      Letter home, 1944 RUSSEL FRINK (NAVY) JIM LOCKHART (NAVY) REX ALAN SMITH (ARMY ENG) VINCE FITZGERALD (NAVY) HONOR FLIGHTS CHARLES ANDERSON (USAAF)      Life of Charles Anderson HARLAND HERMANN (ARMY)      Letters during WWII WALTER MARCHAND (ARMY)      D-Day Doctor's Diary JUNO SUNDSTROM (ARMY) KEITH CHRISTENSEN (ARMY) DEAN SHAFFHAUSEN (NAVY) CHARLES GERLACH (NAVY) WAYNE BREWSTER (ARMY) WILLIAM A. SEMLEK (ARMY) KENNETH HALLIGAN (ARMY) WALTER MEHLHAFF (ARMY) EDDIE KODET (ARMY) TOM McDILL (ARMY) PAUL PRIEST (ARMY) VICTOR WEIDENSEE (ARMY)       Weidensee maps OLA CAMPBELL (USAAF) DALLAS BLOMQUIST (Marines) BILL LOFGREN (ARMY) HAROLD JANSEN (Navy)       Personal Summary JOHN W. FULLER (NAVY)      John Fuller Goes to War JOHN WILKINSON (ROYAL AF) MARCELLA LeBEAU (ARMY) HILARY COLE (USAAF) TOM WENN (USAAF) JOHN GASTON (USAAF) MAURICE CROW (USAAF) GEORGE MOLSTAD (USAAF) GEORGE MOE (US ARMY)

Harold “Had” Taylor is thin and only slightly stooped with age. At 87 years he still has a presence, speaking clearly and with force, enunciating the words that tell his story, reinforced by his quick mind and vivid recall. He spoke at a recent writing group meeting in honor of POWs, relating an intensely interesting history of the times and that fateful flight of April 12, 1944, a day that changed his life forever.

Two members of that fateful flight did not make it out of the explosion that tore the B-24 Liberator out of the sky. One of these men was clearly seen and able, and was spoken to by other members of the crew. Reading between the lines of Had’s narrative, it is easy to see that this individual still haunts Had. The man was a military photographer, hopping a ride to access bomb damage. At least four spoke to him, including Had, telling him to jump as he just stood there. Had thinks, in retrospect, that he may have had hypoxia, numbing the normal processes of the mind.

Imagine the terror. The “box” of six planes was “tail-end Charlie” in a massive mission to Bad Voslau. Of course when you are a tail gunner, you are “tail-end tail-end Charlie,” strapped inside a bubble, suspended above earth, unable to affect one’s fate. It offered a terrifying view of the squadron of ME-110 German fighters that swept below and around to line up on this small lagging element. Hit by rockets, not machine gun fire, the huge plane shuddered and engine four burst into flame. There were only seconds to release himself from his gear, and shuffle forward with the shrapnel wound Had had received in his leg. All made it out except for the co-pilot and the photographer. The pilot was blown out of his seat but survived.

In a short span of two minutes they were hit, they managed to jump, and Had looked up as first the wing exploded, and then the plane. A year-long test of his will remained as a POW. His incarceration is another story.  This year when you are enjoying Christmas, and food and family, remember what some sacrificed and gave to preserve the freedoms that so many take for granted today.

Written by Dean O. Muehlberg, Black Hills Veterans Writing Group, shortly before Had's passing on November 17, 2010.

Be sure to read the other story about Had.