Chaplain Maj. Gen. Robert P Taylor serves his country men
17th Training Wing Chapel
/ Published August 30, 2017
GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Chaplain Robert Taylor was born in Texas in 1909, and graduated from Baylor University.
After completing seminary at Southwestern, Taylor served as pastor of the South Fort Worth Baptist Church.
In Sept. 1940, Taylor entered the military and served as post chaplain at Barksdale Field, Louisiana. Then in May 1941, he transferred to 31st Infantry Regiment Philippine Division and served as the only regimental chaplain.
After the declaration of war, the Philippine Division was transferred to the front lines on the Peninsula of Bataan.
At the surrender of the American forces there, he became a member of the Bataan Death March which led from Bataan through the streets of Manila, to the prison camp eight miles away.
During the march, Taylor worked to alleviate the suffering of his comrades and tried to encourage and inspire hope for his fellow prisoners-of-war, despite many beatings and calculated torture, because he knew that morale could mean the difference between life and death.
While imprisoned, he soon became the best-known officer in the camp by prisoners and the Japanese alike.
Realizing that many service members could be saved if they had medical supplies, Taylor devised a plan for getting medical supplies from Philippine guerrillas by smuggling them into camp, an offense punishable by death.
As medication began to filter into the camp, the death rate among patients declined drastically. He knew the risk could be his life, but did it anyway, saving an untold number of Americans in the process.
His contact was soon discovered though, and Taylor faced torture and debilitating punishment from the Japanese as a result.
Apart from severe beatings, he was placed inside a 4 foot by 4 foot hot box made of tin and bamboo shafts where he was unable to lay down or stand. Incredibly, he endured this for 14 weeks straight in the extreme heat of the south Pacific summer with only his bible as a comfort, which he read through twice.
As he came out, he saw it as an opportunity to rekindle the spirit of his fellow prisoners. So weak that he was leaning on bamboo sticks, he said:
“If you could turn me inside out and look at my heart, you would see a man who still believes in the power of God. I'm going to live and you are too, because God is going to give us strength. Now bow your heads in prayer.”
Taylor survived the horrors of 42 months of Japanese prison camps, and went on to serve as a chaplain an additional 20 years, including his selection as the third U.S. Air Force Chief of Chaplains. He was cited for bravery and awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action for his service in the Battle of Bataan.
Taylor is a true example of selfless leadership and spiritual resiliency.
On Goodfellow Air Force Base, the Taylor Chapel is named after him in honor and remembrance of his legacy.