James W. Taylor was a 20-year-old factory worker when he was inducted into the U.S. Army in January 1943. Little did this Stoney Creek boy realize that before World War II was over he would travel thousands of miles from home, see action in the Pacific Theater and witness first-hand General Douglas MacArthur’s return to the Philippines.
Before being drafted, Taylor was employed as a doffer by the American Bemberg Corporation in Elizabethton. As a doffer, he took full reels of rayon from spinning machines and replaced them with empty reels. He would move buggies containing as many as 16 full reels of rayon to lacing stations, and return the buggy with 16 empty reels to the next machine to be doffed.
“Practically everyone when they were old enough went to work at the rayon plants,” said his widow, Virginia.
Upon his induction into the military, Taylor was sent to Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., where he trained as a truck driver.
Taylor served as a truck driver with the Sixth Army Division in Australia, New Guinea, New Britain, Dutch New Guinea, and the Philippine Islands. During his three years in the military, Taylor had experience in driving all types of military vehicles up to two and one-half ton trucks. In addition to being a truck driver, Taylor also served as a chauffeur for officers, drove jeeps for short hauls and errand services, and hauled troops, food, clothing and equipment.
His separation qualification record noted that Taylor drove over all kinds of roads and during all kinds of weather. The record made special mention of the fact that Taylor drove supplies and equipment to the front lines while under enemy artillery and bombing attacks.