Claude Larry Taylor was born in November 1926 in Sorrento, Louisiana. His father worked for the lumber industry moving from one town to another setting up saw mills. His father maintained a job during the course of the Great Depression. Tayloe liked constantly moving. He attended various schools across Louisiana at an early age. He remembered hearing about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor while he was with his family listening to the radio. He had never heard of Pearl Harbor before. He listened to President Roosevelt's [Annotator's Note: Franklin D. Roosevelt] speech to Congress the next day. He heard the message over a radio he had built. It was the start of his interest in electrical work. That would benefit him later in life. When he was 16 years old, he drove a school bus for the local school district in Sorrento before he graduated from high school during that same year. He went to work driving a log truck during the summer prior to his enrollment in Louisiana State University. When he turned 18, he enlisted in the Navy.
When Claude Taylor turned 18, he enlisted in the Navy. His father had been in the Army in France in World War 1. The stories Taylor heard from his father swayed him to avoid the infantry and join the Naval Air Corps instead. The program for aviation was slowed down so he went into the regular Navy. He was sent to San Diego, California for boot camp training. He enjoyed the experience and learned quite a bit. It was his first time outside of Louisiana. Subsequently, he attended electrician's school in Seattle, Washington. After completing all of his training, he was assigned to the USS Bond (AM-152), a minesweeper. He served as the electrician aboard the ship as it patrolled the Aleutian Islands. He was aboard the USS Bond when it was transferred to the Soviets. Taylor remembers the Soviets were very stand-offish, rude and thought they knew everything. One thing he found amusing was the Soviets bought all of the sailor's watches from them. They would pay 50 dollars for a ten dollar Timex. The weather in the Aleutians was quite cold. He knew he did not want to live in those conditions. He returned briefly to the West Coast prior to being shipped to Honolulu. He was then sent to Guam where he was assigned to the landing craft LSM-352 [Annotator's Note: LSM stands for Landing Ship, Medium]. He was a third class electrician on the LSM. Days were relatively monotonous and quite noisy in the engine room. Movies were shown at night. He was aboard that ship in the Pacific, waiting for the invasion of Japan, when the atomic bombs were dropped and the war concluded. Taylor had the opinion that Harry S. Truman was the greatest President ever. Taylor felt he had survived the war because of Truman's decision to use the atomic bombs.
Following the war's conclusion, Claude Taylor sailed aboard LSM-352 [Annotator's Note: LSM stands for Landing Ship, Medium] for Okinawa. It secured a load of African-American engineers with their equipment and made way for Yokohama, Japan. There was opportunity to go ashore and meet the populace. He felt compassion for the Japanese youngsters who were struggling to survive. The devastation from aerial bombardment in Tokyo and Hiroshima was extreme. Part of Taylor's duties involved running the mail and movie route in a confiscated jeep kept aboard the LSM. He was next assigned to LSM-43 when it made for China. The LSM docked at Shanghai. The ship was turned over to the Chinese Nationalist to help them in their fight against the Chinese Communist. Taylor was in charge of the ship's guidance gyro-compass. The Chinese he instructed were very cooperative and paid attention to every detail explained to them. Taylor did note that life was cheap in China. It was safe to walk the streets but dead could be seen laying on the side of the street or in rivers. Hardly any children were seen in China. The LSM traded its jeep for frozen steaks and ice cream which Taylor took a hand in negotiating from a nearby reefer or freezer ship. He boarded a troopship and returned to San Francisco having spent nearly two years at sea.
Claude Taylor returned from China and disembarked in San Francisco. He returned to Louisiana where he was discharged from the Navy in 1946. He then went home to Sorrento [Annotator's Note: Sorrento, Louisiana]. He had no difficulties returning to civilian life. He enrolled in LSU [Annotator's Note: Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana] and earned a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering with the aid of the G.I. Bill. He was grateful for the financial help the G.I. Bill afforded him in obtaining his degree. He worked as an electrician after graduation. He met his future wife on his first job after receiving his diploma. Taylor stayed in the reserves and was called up shortly after completing his college work. He returned to Guam and then Tokyo through the Air Force base there. Tokyo had significantly been rebuilt by that time. Taylor sailed to Korea where he was transferred to AO-152 which was named Cacapon [Annotators Note: USS Cacapon (AO-52)]. The ship supported fueling of larger warships. When the oiler was transferred back to the United States, Taylor transferred to the repair ship USS Hector (AR-7). Most of the ship's duties were performed in Sasebo where other ships tied up alongside her for repairs and refits. Once a month, the ship sailed to the battle zone off Korea and fired some shells at islands located there. That resulted in additional combat pay. During this period, Taylor had been promoted to second class electrician. As time passed, he was offered first class but opted for discharge instead. He had had enough of the service. Taylor and his ship had assisted during the war in evacuating American troops from North Korea. The 1st Marine Division had been surrounded and were desperately in need of removal. Taylor found the dangerous experience to be exciting. The weather was extremely cold. Taylor also participated in the invasion of Inchon when MacArthur [Annotator's Note: US Army General Douglas MacArthur] surprised the enemy. After Taylor returned home on a troop transport, he opted not to stay in the reserves. He returned to a nice family homecoming.
Claude Taylor married his wife after graduating LSU [Annotator's Note: Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana]. The couple had four children. People understood the effort required to win World War 2 much more back during the war. Many civilians worked in war industries and understood the importance of the effort. The National WWII Museum originally just depicted the European war but when Taylor returned later, he was pleased to see that it reflected the Pacific war, too. It had expanded the story of the war tremendously. People today have a significant appreciation for the boys who serve in the military. Taylor concludes by expressing his thankfulness for the atomic bombs. [Annotator's Note: Taylor had expressed earlier that he felt that the two atomic bombs ended the war and resulted in his survival.]
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