Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History & Culture Enduring Connections: Exploring Delmarva's Black History


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Interview with Ed Taylor, 11 July 2018

Audio Recording

About This Recording

Ed Taylor is a Korean War veteran who was awarded two Bronze Stars for his valor. He talks of his tour of service, including his actions in combat that resulted in his two Bronze Stars, the integration of the military, and his passion in his hometown bridge over Tyaskin Creek near Wetipquin, Maryland.

This interview is part of the Maryland Humanities Teacher’s Institute Veterans Oral History Project. For more information, see the Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid.


Interviewer: Gloria Green
Narrator: Edward Taylor
Keywords: Korean War, Combat, integration, segregation, religion, Wetipquin
Intro: Mr. Edward Taylor shares his experience as a Korean War Veteran and the fighting he went through in his time in the Army. He shares the experiences of combat, life of the soldiers, and some other interesting stories of his life in those years.

[Interviewer chats with Narrator as she performs a sound test on the recording equipment. Interview begins at 1:00]

Gloria Green (GG): So, good morning. I’m here-- my name is Gloria Green, I’m here with Mr. Edward Taylor on July 11th, 2018, here at the Edward Nabb Center. I will be conducting an interview with him about his military history to be used for the Library of Congress’ Veteran’s History Project in affiliation with Maryland Humanities. The purpose of the Veteran’s Project is to collect recorded oral histories of America’s war veterans and they will be stored as part of a permanent collection at the Library of Congress Folk Life use and availability for the public domain. So, is that okay with you, Mr. Taylor?

Edward Taylor (ET): That’s fine with me.

GG: Again, we thank you so much for participating. If you have any materials that you would like me to look at or you would like to contribute, that’s fine too. I did want you to know that at any point during this interview, if we need to take a break, that’s fine, just let me know and we can stop and pause; we have time. Whatever can make you most comfortable. I wanted to first begin talking with you, Mr. Taylor, about an article that was published in the local Delmarva that I read from 2016. It stated that you had a bridge in your hometown of Wetipquin-- I hope I pronounced that correctly—named in your honor! Can you tell me what that felt like and what it was like growing up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland?

ET: Yes, I enjoyed growing up on the eastern shore. My home was Wetipquin, a very small community. We had a creek that separated us from the next neighborhood, which was Tyaskin, and there was a bridge that went over this creek; a very small bridge, maybe 2000 feet. We had a ferry that took cars across the creek, a ferry operated by a man pulling a rope. Those were the early days. Soon, they replaced that; as a matter of fact, I think it was done while I was in the army in 1951. They replaced that old-fashioned ferry with a bridge. When I came come, I was elated and I kept—I was like a bridge-tender, self-appointed, making sure that things were right on this bridge. We had a marina close by and I docked my boat there, so I had more reason to come down to the bridge area. Several of my friends had boats there, so it became like a recreational spot. We took care of the bridge and the marina. As time went by, the bridge grew old and by the time I reached the county council, it was time for a look at that bridge because it made creaking noises and I asked the county council to explore the bridge and have it tested to see if it was worthy of being repaired or replace. The decision was to replace that bridge completely at a cost of $1,000,000. I would go up to New York to the bond company to lobby for the $1,000,000. So, I did. I went to Wall Street, New York, and we were granted the $1,000,000 and we began to approach the construction date and ran into problems. I hope this is not too long and worn out, but the problem was this: there were some people who lived up beyond the bridge and they wanted it, the new bridge, to be high enough for their work boats to go under it. I learned a lot; I learned that if you can put a bridge across that place by law, it must be high enough to allow transportation under the bridge. So, that was where we were standing, but in order to make it high enough, we would have to go back to the bond company and ask for another $1,000,000. This the county council did not want to do. So, we had reached a brick. But we got that settled and decided it would cost too much to dredge the channel for our traffic anyway, so we cancelled any thoughts of going back and getting another $1,000,000 because we wouldn’t get it anyway. They went on and built this bridge, so I wrestled with the bridge so much, they decided it was my bridge and somebody came up with the idea, “You know, we should name the bridge after you.” and they approached me about it, I said, “I would be honored,” I felt good about it. That’s how that came about. I had put a lot of work in it, and even elevated the road leading to the bridge an extra three feet because the tidal waters would flood the road quite often and I asked the director of public works to come down and we looked at it and he and I decided to raise the road instead of doing anything else to stop the water from covering over it. That worked out fine. So, it seems that I had done as much for the bridge as anybody in Wicomico county. It’s just almost mandatory that they would do something to acknowledge that fact.

GG: Yes. Well, having grown up there, remembering the bridge from where you were a child, the time now, currently, that must have been just an amazing experience for you to contrast from when you were a child and the status of the bridge at that point to where it’s elevated to now.

ET: It was a no-brainer. It was my bridge, and this is the way the public felt. “You should be the one to name it after, as much as you’ve done for—it really went back to the days when my uncle was the bridge tender. We’d go down and he’d be happy to see us, he’d even bring candy and sodas down because we would be the one that pulled it across there and he was the one getting paid to do it. So, it was just fun. It was fun for four or five of us to get together and do this honor to help (inaudible) pull across the creek. It was a creek, Wetipquin creek.

GG: How old were you at the time you were helping out your uncle? What age were you at the time when you were pulling it?

ET: I was about twelve. Probably about twelve. We were big, strong boys. We were country, and we thought we were more than what we were, but it gave him a big break, and he admitted it, “I like to see you boys come down, gives me a chance to rest!” It gave him a chance to go over and take a nap because we’d pull it across for him. It was part of the good old days that was put in one of my books about Up from the Strawberry Patch. That was one of the three books that I wrote. I think, in that book, I talked a lot about that ferry.

GG: Is there anything else you want to share with me about growing up on the eastern shore before we begin to start talking about your military service time in the Korean War? Just to get some context of your background and upbringing a bit.

ET: That is the one thing that I don’t have, everybody wanted Up from the Strawberry Patch so bad, that right down to the time I stopped writing, I gave away my last book Up from the Strawberry Patch, and I said, “I’m not going to have any more printed because I'm retired. I’m not going to write anymore.” Then I turned and wrote On Yonder’s End, this is the third one; it was part-fictional—

GG: Okay. The other two were biographical?

ET: Mm-hmm. I got in my head that I would like to do a fictional one based on a story that was told to me during the old days. This story was told to me, so I couldn’t claim authorship of the story except that it was one that was fictional. That’s the way I had to do it.

GG: Was it based on a true story?

ET: It was based on a true story that was told, everybody had heard the story, but nobody had written about it, to my knowledge. The one’s who were close to this person, the person who told me about the story, they had first-hand knowledge about it. I figured it would make a good story, but I would have to make it come out my way, the results and everything, I changed it up. It wasn’t exactly what he told me; I made the ending more readable.

GG: I understand, okay. Well, I want to shift gears a bit and let’s steer towards talking about, for the rest of the interview, about your time during the Korean War, your service during the Korean War. So, I was wondering if you could tell me about the branch of service, your rank and the time you served?

ET: I was in with the combat infantry. I took my training in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Right then, the Korean War had just begun. The year was 1951, and I was drafted and immediately sent to Fort Meade for two weeks. We were there when Integration took place, I was happy that I got to see that and be home when that happened. The military was integrated the week that I reached Fort Meade, so that was 1951. I really was motivated and pleased by the way that the Army did things. They did not “herm and haw” for years, they just came to our barracks and made an announcement that “You fellas get ready and listen to this: today, we are going to mix you with the white barracks. Some of you will go to a white barracks, some of you will go to a black barracks, but it will be a mixture.” The word is “integrated”, I had never heard the word “Integration” before. I had never heard of integration, the word “integration”. I was only 19 years old and there were a lot of words I didn’t know. That was a big event in my life. I was pleased with the way they shook hands --I guess that’s what made me love the military—they shook hands and you would think that they were old relatives meeting after a long absence. These were guys that had never affiliated themselves with anybody except their own race. All this took place in Fort Meade before they sent us to Hawaii. So, when we got to Hawaii, we were well-prepared to go into Integration because it was already some type of integration in Hawaii before we even got there. They were integrated, there was no segregation in Hawaii because there were so many different races and they were really making up the population with the group of people who had no consciousness of different colors. That’s the feeling that I got. If you go to Hawaii, you don’t even talk about black and white because practically everybody is either black, brown, there’s not much in the way of white, but there were plenty of pure white people who lived there too; I learned this later. So, we left Hawaii, some of us did, and were assigned duty, of what they called a “Permanent Duty,” and I was lucky enough to get drafted for the Korean War.

GG: So, Mr. Taylor, would you say that your experience serving as an African American during this time when you were initially drafted was a positive experience for you from your perspective initially?

ET: I won’t say it was a very positive experience. I learned all about integration-- I had never had a decent conversation with the white person except the ones that I worked for. I had never—growing up, you didn’t communicate with each other and in little Wetipquin, there were very few in my community. The ones who lived there were farmers who employed us on their farms. So, there was no real communication except, “I want you to plow this field this morning and come back and plow that field the next morning.” That was the essence of our conversation. So, what I learned-- I learned to converse with 10-12 different races in Hawaii.

GG: I wanted to ask you, for the training that you did do in Hawaii, was it specific to prepare you for combat in Korea and, if so, what kind of training was that?

ET: Combat infantry training was what we called—we took training to be-- I was well-trained when I reached Korea. They drafted me to go to Korea, I wanted to go back to the United States in Georgia and go to Fort Brennan. I had signed up to be a lieutenant and I passed the test, but they still didn’t consider that to allow me to go back to the United States. What they saw-- because I have to say I was strong and I’ve always been strong, and showed that off in Hawaii during training, and that was a mistake on my part because they’re going to pick the best ones to go there and fight and I showed them that I was one of the best fighters they could find. I came to that conclusion to help me get through this war because I thought, “Why did they pick me? I didn’t want to go over here.” I didn’t sit and grieve because I knew it wasn’t going to help me.

GG: So, you could contrast your experience from the time you did your basic training in Hawaii to when you arrived in Korea in the combat duty. How were you feeling at each moment? What did it feel like when you made that transition from going from the basic training in Hawaii to a land you were not familiar with in Korea as a young man, you mentioned you were 19 at the time? How did all of that feel as a 19-year-old man?

ET: I was scared to death, I tell you. Everybody was scared when you approach a place and you could hear the sound of guns being fired and you are approaching, for the first time in your life, a combat zone. It was horrifying. I saw so many other things that I thought was horrifying that I didn’t pay as much attention. I saw kids coming out of caves naked begging for food, and this started to take first place in feeling sorry for them. I’m not going to feel sorry for myself, I’m going to feel sorry for them. Then I started seeing people who had been on the front lines who were torn apart. This is the thing that I'll put down as the worst thing to ever happen to me: When we were approaching the front line—this is coming into Korea, they’d taken us up to where we were going to fight—there were three trucks coming down off the mountain through the path that we were coming up marching, so we had to step to one side of the road as we were marching and let these trucks come through. As the first one went by, I said, “They got dead bodies in there!” I thought I was seeing things. Then the second one came through and one of the guys said, “You not seeing things, those are dead bodies.” The first thing I thought, “Those were our people,” that’s what really terrified me. But not one of them, I found out later, was Americans. What they were doing, after a big fight, they would just throw the bodies of the enemy into trucks and take them to a community hole and dump the bodies in, then take bulldozers and cover them up. Well, they would put anybody they found—this was done by the corpsman—that was their duty. Anybody they found that was American—we had not only American, he had Englishmen, British, it was supposed to be a representation of all nations fighting against the communist regime. So, we had people from Thailand... so, those bodies would be put in black bags, tagged and then taken down to be identified and buried with some dignity, so we’d send the body home. That was a little relief when I finally found that out. Could you believe that? I was relieved to find out that they weren't our bodies on that truck. That was a horror that faced me the first day I was there. I hadn’t even reached our destination, but it was a good sample of what I was about to endure see for the next nine months. Even to this day, I ask myself, “How did I get through all of that?” The answer is at the end of my story... Recently, I got my Lay Speaker license and, for the first time, I made a sermon about the war. I had so many requests and I told them, in the end, how I survived. It moved a lot of people, even to the point of tears, when they listened to it. When they listened to my sermon, it really got them... how do you say... stirred up. It was a terrific ending and I put that ending in the second book. The second book was Up from the Strawberry Patch.

GG: So, Mr. Taylor, as I understand from what you described of your first encounter once in Korea, you were stationed there and make reference to nine months? Was that the time period in Korea? Were there other tours or campaigns in Korea that you were assigned to during that time? Could you talk a little bit about that?

ET: Yes. They had specific assignments for you when you got there; they had that on paper. I was assigned to the 36th AAA anti-aircraft division. That’s a combination of infantry fighters operating machine guns that are capable of bringing down aircraft. That was—AAA means the aircraft division. That was the name of the division, the 36th AAA Anti-Aircraft division, and that’s what I was assigned to. My job was to be a cannoneer... on a half-track. I have to explain what a half-track is: I had a picture in one book, it’s a tank... and a truck that’s hooked together. Probably seen them many times and never paid attention. On the back of that truck the machines gun sits and you just back your truck up during a big push and turn the machine guns loose. There’s two cannoneers that keep these machine guns loaded. They have to run and get ammo and keep it loaded. Sometimes we’d have ammo stashed behind the front line and they’d have to run and bring the ammunition up to us. My job at first was to be a cannoneer and bring the bullets and we would keep the machine guns fed. Sitting between the set of guns, you’re looking at two guns and two guns here, and right here there is the gunner. He’s the one who pulls the trigger and operates these machines. So, we’ve got a group made up of two cannoneers, a gunner, and a driver. That’s the six of us. The six of us lived in the same little hut that we—as soon as you get there, you dig, what they call, a “bunker”. We lived in that bunker, six men. When we got kicked off or we decided to move, we would have to go through the same procedure at our next destination. We didn’t live in this one bunker for the duration of the war, there were times that we got forced-off and we would have to relocate on another assignment. It’s a hard war to explain because you see a line that never moves. We would knock them off, and the next day they would knock us off. (Short pause) We would have to pull all our equipment back and retreat. So, we know when to retreat. GG: So, Mr. Taylor, with the six men, were you always the same six men or was there a rotation of men at any point? ET: They never rotated. You rotated when your time came and you got to serve nine months regardless to what your position is. If you’re on the front line, you can go home sooner, a lot of people volunteered for combat duty just for that reason. If you’re on the front line... I wish I had a chart, I lectured to the classes in several high schools when they came to the Korean war. The teachers would contact me and say, “I’m giving the Korean War some attention next month, would you come and go through your story?” They called it my story. I would have a chart showing them as I talked about the front line, “Here’s how the front-line works. If you are assigned to front line duty, which we were, you get to go home in nine months. If you’re stationed back here with the heavy artillery, it’s not too bad, your chances of living is much higher than being here, but you go home at a rate of nine months...” I want to get that straight. The first line, you only have to stay nine months, the second line you have to stay twelve months, and the third line you had to stay thirty-six months; you can’t stay any longer than 36 months. The purpose of a line is... to show that you are apt to die here on line one. Second line, you got the artillery, and very few people get killed doing artillery because they have to get over line—the enemy has to cross line one before they even do anything to force line two. So, they are safer. Line three, you have to spend your entire period in Korea, but you’re back there with M.A.S.H. You’ve seen M.A.S.H.?

GG: Oh, the show M.A.S.H.? And the movie? Yes.

ET: Yes. They were in a three-zone, but they were closer than the ones who worked in wire-houses and, I call it, the one-zone. They’re the ones who have to stay there the entire time. Hospitals, the airports, but nobody gets killed there unless it's at a ratio of what you would see here every day.

GG: So, Mr. Taylor, as an infantryman, you've given me some description of your typical day, was there more that you wanted to add in terms of what an actual typical day was for you or perhaps how your day began and how your day ended?

ET: Yeah. A typical day... First, there’s always somebody on-duty. The extent of how many people are on-duty is based on what’s going on out there because sometimes just one of us would sit on this—there's always at least one. You had codes for—code red, everybody is out, code blue... I don’t remember all of the codes, but there's codes that run from one to six and that gives you an idea of what kind of danger that the front observers see. They're the ones that give the information and we would pass it on to each other; “We got to have five of us on guard duty at night because we got a code red.” So, five of us would stand guard all night long and one would sleep.

GG: Where would the guard be? In the bunker or would he be on the half-track?

ET: He would be on the half-track, yeah. You got to pull your guard duty on the halftrack because once we get a word from the front observers, and we had them scattered all through the—once we heard from them, be ready to pull that trigger. I’ll tell you later on how that got me to something I had planned to bring today. I got two bronze stars.

GG: Oh! I wanted to talk about that with you. I wanted to ask you if you could share about your bronze star commendations and how it felt when you received those awards as well—were there any parts of your service beyond receiving the bronze stars that you are particularly proud of having served in the Korean war?

ET: “Well the only thing I had to be proud of was I was rewarded two Bronze Stars,” was the way I put it, sounds so horrible. You say, “What did you do to get them?” I said, “I killed 20 people.” That’s end of story. That was it. It was the situation. The forward observers-- I can tell you this very quickly—are spread all through the danger zone, they’re the ones I feel sorry for because they’re sitting there all by themselves, but they are camouflaged and not many of them are really in danger but they can see the danger zone and they have good radio connections with everybody. We call observers, we have connections with them, and I was on guard duty and I saw some movement that I didn’t think I should see. I called the one of the observers and asked him if he saw it and he did, he said, “I see the bushes moving, but we got to be careful because we have our own men out there on patrol duty. It could be some of them.” The first thing we had to do was call headquarters and see if anybody had a patrol out in that vicinity. The answer was “no,” so right away we had to assume the rest. “If we don’t have a patrol out there, who is that down there that I'm looking right at?” I could see the bushes move. The answer had to be, “If we don’t have anybody there, there’s nobody supposed to be there at this time,” and I didn’t act with haste but I didn’t waste no time. I sprayed the whole area with my machine guns, then it set the field on fire and it just burned a whole area. When we sent somebody down later on, after it was all over, there were 20 bodies there and they were enemies; they were Chinese sneaking through the grass and every one of them, as far as we can assume, got killed in my blast. It’s hard to overcome those machine guns. I had to burn down the whole area to get them, but... it was worth a bronze star.

GG: I wanted to know if you encountered other military troops that were also on the same side as the US in the war effort that you collaborated with. What was that like working with other nations for the same common goal and purpose during the Korean War?

ET: We saw quite a few of them. The British, I hate to even talk about it, the only that they had connections with the British is they would get a quart of wine -- I didn’t drink, so I said, “These guys are over here fighting and you going--” “Right around the corner there is a British company. All you have to do is go over there and ask them for it, they’ll give it to you.” I said, “You’ll never send me down there.” I never had that kind of combat-- I never saw that kind of combat except the Ethiopians, six of them went on a patrol and on the way back, two of them had women’s heads in their hands. That scared me as much as anything in the war. I’ve ever seen anything like that. They ran into-- I don’t know— “I'm not going to talk to them! I’m not going to question them! They’ll cut my head off!” That’s the way I felt. But we saw that, all six of us, we said, “Look! They’re coming back!” Then somebody said, “Look! They got two heads in their hands!” It was either two women or two men whose hair grew very long, but they had two heads in their hands and the hair was that long. So, we just assumed they didn’t like women. Why would they cut their heads off and bring them back? The relationship between other nations was not really there, especially with an outfit like us.

GG: In terms of your interactions with Korean citizens, aside from the combat, can you reflect on an incident or a time where something that impacted you to this day that you remember? Would you like to share any of your interactions with the Korean citizens outside of the combat? Did those encounters happen and if they did, what was that like?

ET: I didn’t have much contact with the people we were sent to defend. We were—we call ourselves lucky because they allowed us to employ the youngsters, but they told us very plainly, “If you take any--” We called them “house boys,” “--if you take any house boys, you make sure that they are not babies, you’ve got to judge that for yourself.” The houseboy was a big help and he kept our clothes clean, because in our particular situation, we were safe most of the time. We weren’t fighting 24/7. There were times when we would sit there and watch for airplanes and it wasn’t an air war so we didn’t have much to do with airplanes. We didn’t shoot down one enemy airplane, not once. But, going back to the relationships, we had a boy named “Lee” and he told us he was 12. They will lie to you and I have to say that.

GG: So, I understand you are referring to Lee, who’s Korean—

ET: He was Korean, and he was very intelligent. I think he was just small for his age, but we thought he was 12 and he could really keep those clothes clean. We were very proud people; we wanted those shoes shines and our muddy clothes washed. He could do that and he kept that done, but the end was kind of tragic. We were attacked and I took him to the place where he could make a run for freedom. In some kind of way, he got twisted around and when I started back, he got—he ran into a group of enemies and during the scuffle with me, I just shot everybody who was in that group and he was one of them. I didn’t... I didn’t let it overthrow me but that's one of the things I wrote about. That hurt me worse than anything.

GG: okay. I wanted to step into a couple more questions for you, Mr. Taylor. Was there an opportunity off the battlefield that you and the men exhibited comradery? Were there times where you were off—duty where you could enjoy each other’s company off of the field?

ET: Yeah. In-between battles, we’ll take one hill and once we take it, we turn it over to the infantry. Then, we go back and get two-weeks rest. We would have a good time. We would... we parked our rig right next to the kitchen that had been providing food for the artillery company, and all we had to do was walk down the hill and they would feed us. We didn’t have to eat C-rations for a month. We had a good time with each other because there was no danger and we knew we were safe for at least two weeks, then we would get our new assignment. Played cards, I don’t think there was a whole lot of drinking, I know I didn’t drink. We played cards a lot; Poker, and that was our life, almost. We used to call bullets for chips.

GG: How did it feel to return to the United States after your service? Can you talk about how that felt after the war?

ET: That’s the saddest part, about my returning to the United States.

GG: is there anything you’d like to share about that?

ET: Yeah, I think I did-- I think I started it in one of the books. What... really got me... I got on the plane to come from—my tickets called for me to go to Baltimore and from there I would go to Salisbury, that was my route. I landed in Washington and they put me on a small plane that flew me to Baltimore... I had to catch the Trailway bus to Salisbury, and this was my route coming home that was lined-out by me-- I had to have a route I gave them so they’d be able to keep up with me until I reached home. Well, when I got on the bus in Baltimore, I had my duffle bag in my lap and it was very uncomfortable. So, I wanted a seat where I could put the duffle bag and I didn’t see one and I looked up front and there was a bar that went across on the front seat. I put the duffle bag on the floor and leaned it against the fence and sat back comfortably with my duffle bag in front of me and I wasn’t taking up seat space with my bag. That’s the way I looked at it. The driver told me, “You have to go in the back with that bag.” I said, “Why can’t I sit here? I’m just taking up one seat and my bag is resting there. I got to stay with my bag.” He got very nasty with me, cursed me. I had fought for nine months and I had no intentions in fighting anyone else in any way. I picked the bag up and sat where he wanted me to sit. Here’s what happened: This was a Trailway bus and we had to catch a ferry across the Chesapeake Bay and that gives everybody a chance to walk out on deck and look at the sights and breathe and whatnot. I was shocked when I saw it was a new bridge, this was in 1953. A new bridge that crossed the Chesapeake Bay and it was practically finished. I was really amazed. I wanted to get a good look at it and watched it. I took my-- I was so mad, I took my little box I kept some medals in and I went up on deck and I looked at the bridge and I realized I was back home and this man would not even let me sit in the front seat. It woke me up that we don’t-- that’s not part of what I can do. It made me so mad, I blamed everything on the army. I took the medals off, I took the gold buttons off my uniform and threw them away overboard, saying “This is not my country.” I was that upset. That man had upset me that bad. Here’s the funniest thing that happened. There was a white man that had on his uniform. He saw me bumping my things away and he came down there and I thought “He’s going to come and harass me because he’s a lieutenant and I’m a sergeant and tell me that I’m doing something wrong.” You know what he did? He said, “I saw what you were just doing and I don’t blame you.” I thought, “Oh! I got somebody on my side!” He was a white man and he said, “That man didn’t have to do--” I say, “You know what? I liked integration so much, that over the past two years, I forgot that I had to sit in a special place because the integration taught me so much togetherness.” I forgot it and I actually had. Two years later, you know the story, two years after I got back into the country, the lady refused to give her seat up in Alabama—

GG: Rosa Parks? You are referring to Rosa Parks?

ET: Rosa, yeah. So, they can’t say I was trying to be another Rosa Parks. I just don’t think that man treated me fair and it didn’t sit well with me. I felt so helpless. What do you do with a case like that? I don’t want to fight. When I say fight, I mean not just physically, I didn’t want to say nothing because I think he would have tried to get me put off of that ferry. Not in the middle of the bay, but he would have put me off the bus and leave me standing there and I didn’t want to go through that, so that was one battle that I ran away from.

GG: Well, as an educator and an author and a civil leader and a military veteran, you’ve done innumerable services to this country in a variety of ways. I wanted to know what your thoughts are to the young men and women today who are called to serve? What sort of message can you give to them based on your experiences? Do you have any thoughts to share on that?

ET: Hmm... I’ll share it, but I don’t think they’ll take it as much as I did that they don’t see it that way now because some of them have said to me, “Why didn’t you--” this is school kids, “Why did you let him push you around like that?” I Said, “I just finished telling you I was tired of fighting.” “Well, I would’ve taken my foot and--” I said, “Now, you don’t solve problems that way. That’s what I’m here to tell you. You don’t solve those problems that way.”

GG: Mm-hmm. Well, before we close, Mr. Taylor, I wanted to ask if there was anything else you would like to share and if you were aware of any other veterans that might be interested as well in sharing their stories like you shared with me today?

ET: Yeah, there’s this one thing that... I shared this several times now, and I’m trying to think of how to put it. I did go get my Lay Speaker’s license so I could help my church and I told them of an incident that occurred and it’s hard for me to explain it but I can tell you about the incident. My mother prayed for me every day, she told me that and I know my mother would not lie. I know when she got up in the morning, I bet she got on her knee and prayed; I can visualize her doing that. Then I'd get a letter every other week, she would write me a letter. In every letter, she said “and I prayed for you every day. I pray for you every day.” She never wrote me a letter without saying that. Things got so bad that I was getting so upset about being over there, I was tired of war that I got mad with the person I should never get mad with. I said, “My mother prays to you every day and you have done nothing!” I did, I got upset with the religion. That was the one thing my mother was hoping I would never do. But I got mad and I turned against religion. I... one thing came up: there’s always a solution... and I got to get this together right because we’re at the end... I wanted to... I wanted to do something... I can’t think of the words, I do this every time... But it helps if I tell the whole story. Five minutes? You got five minutes?

GG: Certainly. Whatever else you would like to continue to share, we have time.

ET: Okay. I was telling you, I got my Lay Speaker license, and at one of the sermons, I talked to them about my experiences in the Korean war and I told them of something that happened to me and to this day, I have trouble believing it to this very day. They set up a tent city about ten miles away from the front line. In January, they put at least 100 Bunsen burners in there and made showers that could accommodate thousands. It was a fascinating piece of work, I'm telling you. They wanted to give to soldiers to take a bath, some of them first time in six months. A bath. I didn’t take a bath for nine months until this came—no, it was six months because this occurred six months into my stay there. They sent word to us that we would all have the opportunity to take a shower, but we would have to go one at a time. We drew cards to see who would go first and I drew a queen of hearts. So, I was the first one to go... I took a shower and I started putting my clothes back on. I wanted to get dressed fast because it was actually cold. The temperature was actually 26 below zero, but it felt good in there but I wanted to get dressed in case I had to step out there. Well, at that minute-- I'm getting close to the end of this story—at that minute, there was an explosion and the guy next to me said, “What was that noise?” I said, “It sounded like an incoming round!” That’s what we called them; when they’re shooting at you, it’s called an incoming round. “No, it can't be because we’re eight miles away!” I said, “That’s what it sounded like!” So, I started putting my clothes on with haste and then “Boom!” The second one hit down on the other end of the tent and somebody screamed, I could hear a scream. They said, “A piece of shrapnel got me!” Now it’s time for me to put some speed on then. I got out of that tent, it was a tent city about five football-fields long, I got out and I wanted to find the first hole I could get in because that’s what kept us alive, jumping in foxholes. I ran and saw one, a nice, big comfortable one, but it had cardboard boxes where the guys had brought their c-rations and there was a couple of cans in there but I jumped on top of them. The metal didn’t bother me, it was mostly cardboard. I sat here and here’s where the story starts: All of the sudden, I heard a voice and nobody can tell me that I didn’t, it said “get out of here!” Without-- I told my mother later I was a good servant because I always was very obedient. When I heard that voice say that, I leaped so far and as I was in the air, the explosion went off and the dirt and cardboard boxes rained down on my face and I looked up and I was fifty feet, about fifty feet, from that hole. There’s no way, and I say every time I tell this story, there’s no way I can jump fifty feet. That voice was God and (Sobbing) I can’t tell the story unless I cry. It was God! He saved me!

GG: It’s alright, Mr. Taylor, he saved you. We can pause and stop here. Take a break. I thank you so very much for coming in today and telling your story, it means so much. This is Gloria Green concluding her interview with Mr. Edward Taylor, Korean War Veteran here at the Nabb Research Center in Salisbury, Maryland. Thank you again, very much, Mr. Taylor.

ET: Thank you. (AUDIO ENDS)