George A. Taylor

Biography

George Arthur Taylor was born 14 February 1899 in Illinois. He became a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point on 13 June 1922. His career during the interwar years could be characterized as an unusually long string of infantry assignments beginning with the 23rd Infantry at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He would then serve with the 35th Infantry in Hawaii from 1924-27, the 4th Infantry in Fort Lawton, Washington and Fort Abraham Lincoln in North Dakota from 1927-28, the 30th Infantry Presidio in San Francisco, California from 1928-33, the 38th Infantry in Fort Douglas, Utah from 1934-37, finally taking a break from troop duty when he attended the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth from 1937-38. He returned to more infantry assignments with the Filipino Scout unit of the 57th Infantry Regiment at Fort William McKinley, then as the Intelligence Officer of the 1st Battalion 16th Infantry from November 1940 to June 1941. He became the assistant chief of staff of the Caribbean Force from June-July of 1941. After that went on to instruct tactics at the Infantry School in Fort Benning, Georgia from July 1941 to August 1942. He then became assigned to the North African Theater of Operations from August 1942 to January 1943 initially as a staff member for the Advanced Echelon Amphibious Forces, Atlantic Fleet and in October the a staff member to the Naval Operating Base Commander in Oran. In February 1943, he took brief command of the 26th Infantry Regiment in North Africa. On 20 April 1943, he took command of the 16th Infantry Regiment replacing Col. Frechet where he would remain for the most of the war until he was promoted to Brigadier General in 1944 and assigned as the assistant division commander of the 4th Infantry Division and eventually returning to the 1st Division as its assistant division commander.

As commander of the 16th Infantry Regiment, he would lead his men to drive Rommel out of North Africa, to the amphibious assault on the Gulf of Gela in the invasion of Sicily including facing the Hermann Goring Division in a desperate tank battle. His finest moment of the war came at Easy Red of Omaha Beach in Normandy, where the 1st Division was bogged down by intense machine gun and artillery fire by fortified positions of bunkers of battle-hardened German 352nd Division. Sometime around 0800 on June 6, 1944 the 47 year old Col. Taylor arrived on an LCM with the second wave of Combat Team 16 command post. While the craft came under heavy enemy machine and mortar fire on the way in, he was relatively un-harassed while he waded ashore in waist deep water. Col. Taylor was able to observe that the entire assaulting element was pinned down on the beach in stake of disorganized chaos following the death of the Executive Officer Lt. Col. Matthews along with the Supply Officer Major Godfrey. He immediately gathered what remained of his company and battalion commanders at the forward CP on the beach and ordered them to lead their men off the beach that had become a kill zone under constant enemy fire. When Lt. Spaulding’s section from Company E was able to penetrate the German coastal defenses, Col. Taylor rallied his troops to Exit E-1 by uttering one of the most famous lines of the war, “There are only two kinds of people who are staying on this beach: those who are dead and those who are going to die. Now let’s get the hell out of here!” Under the command of Col. Taylor CT 16 advanced 300 yards inland, where over the next 24 hours he was able to consolidate his position and repel German counterattacks, successfully securing a beach head on Omaha.

He continued to fight with the 16th Infantry in France, until he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General and replaced Frederick Gibb as the assistant division commander of the 4th Infantry Division. He would campaign from Paris, to the capture of Remagen Bridge, to the Harz Mountains and the Elbe River. He returned to the 1st division in October of 1944 as its assistant division commander. His career culminated, when he accepted the surrender of 70,000 German soldiers in the city of Elbogen, Sudetenland, which he changed back to its name before the Nazi invasion in official papers to Loket, Czechoslovakia earning the respect of the Czech people. He retired in 1946 from war related disabilities. He died at the age of 70 on 3 December 1969 in Palo Alto, California as a result from a prolonged illness caused by a stroke in 1960.

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