Last updated: August 12, 2013
The Lusk Herald
December 4, 1991
Ray Taylor remembers World War II by Catherine DeCastro
Ray Taylor was working for George Gibson at Midwest Hardware store in 1941. On Dec. 7 he was driving around in his car.
"Someone came by and asked if I had my radio on," he said. He soon learned, along with the rest of the country, that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor."
Taylor said, "I had some anxieties, It started to soak in. That was the start of WWII for the United States. It didn't strike home that we were going to be involved before that. I remember wondering 'just how bad is this going to be?'"
His father was in WWI and lucky enough not to be on the front lines. Taylor didn't think he would be that fortunate.
He was right. He spent 26 months of his overseas tour on the front.
After enlisting in the army the following July, 21-year-old Taylor went through Ft. Francis E. Warren in Cheyenne, Ft. Logan in Denver, Camp Croft, S.C. for basic training and finally to Fort Meade, Md. On Feb. 8, 1942, he boarded a troop ship to go overseas. The ship landed at Casablanca, Africa.
The Third Infantry Division went from Casablanca to French Morocco and Algeria. The troops were held in reserve and this time was spent in training. The division acted as an occupation force at the tail end of the African Campaign.
"The action we saw there was more or less police action," said Taylor.
It wasn't until July 1943 in Sicily that Taylor saw his first combat action. "I still believe that the reason I'm alive today is because I was lucky enough to have so much training."
Fighting continued for the next two years and Taylor's division went from Southern Italy to Rome and into Southern France near Nice. During this time thoughts of home were constant.
"I was always thinking about my family - my mother - wondering 'will I ever have a chance to see her again?"
In February 1945 Taylor was part of a group that removed the last of the Germans from the Colmar Pocket on the French side of the Rhine River.
Despite rigorous duty in the war zone, Taylor did have breaks from the fighting.
"Some days you could come back to a rear echelon area 25 to 50 miles behind the front lines. We had a chance to get some cooked food, although it wasn't home, that's for sure, One time we were back in an area like that in France. A friend and I were walking down the street in this little French town and I looked up ahead of me. There were a couple of GIs talking. I said to my friend, "That boy I went to school with.' Sure enough, it was Joe Pfister of Node," he said.
The news of Roosevelt's death reached Taylor when he was in Hamburg, Germany. "I knew the war was winding down at that point," he said.
Taylor served as a member of occupation forces in several different areas. He was based at the foothills of the Swiss Alps and near Frankfurt, Germany.
The United States dropped a single atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, The Japanese surrendered on Aug. 14, 1945.
On Oct. 7, 1945, close to four years after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Taylor arrived stateside in New York City. "We came back in class on the queen Elizabeth. The statue of liberty is the most beautiful thing there is," he said.
On Oct. 18, 1945 Taylor came home to Lusk.
"That time of the year was a busy time for the farmers and ranchers so I was able to help. I came in and saw George Gibson a short time later and he put me back to work. It was like stepping back into life as I left it. Again, I feel like I was very lucky and fortunate to be able to do that," he said.
Since then Taylor has been active in local and state VFW organizations. he was Post Commander for five terms, District Commander for three terms, has held all VFW chairs in the state and was State Commander in 1989-90, Taylor was recently appointed the Assistant Inspector General of the State.
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