Baylor To Give Inaugural War Heroes Award

Nov. 13, 2003

Baylor University will present the inaugural Chaplain Robert P. Taylor Award for a distinguished Baylor War Hero at 1:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 17, at the Ring of Honor outside Pat Neff Hall. Accepting the award, which will be given posthumously to Taylor, will be his widow, Mildred Taylor of Arlington, and his son, Robert P. Taylor Jr., of Vienna, Va.

"Baylor has a long and distinguished history of its students supporting the nation's defense," said Lt. Col. Jeff Bowles, commander of Baylor's ROTC detachment. "During World War II alone, over 4,000 Baylor students answered the call to serve often placing their education on hold. This award seeks to recognize those whose heroic personal sacrifice demonstrates the 'selfless service' exemplified throughout the Bible. Their service is a legacy to all Baylor generations."

Taylor was born in Henderson, Texas, in 1909. He received a bachelor's degree from Baylor in 1933 and a master's degree in 1936 and a doctor of theology degree in 1939 from Southwestern Baptist Seminary.

Prior to entering military service in September 1940, he served as pastor of the South Fort Worth Baptist Church. His first military assignment was as post chaplain at Barksdale Field, La.

Taylor was next assigned as regimental chaplain of the 31st Infantry Regiment, Philippine Division, arriving in Manila in May 1941. With the declaration of war, the Philippine Division was transferred to the front lines on the Peninsula of Bataan. Taylor was cited for bravery and awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action for his services in the Battle of Bataan.

At the surrender of the American forces there, he became a member of that part of the Bataan "Death March." He served as chaplain in the prison camp hospital at Cabanatuan where he ministered to more than 10,000 patients. In the summer of 1944, he spent 14 weeks in solitary confinement for smuggling food and medicine to the patients. He was later taken to Japan and Manchuria on one of the infamous "hellships" which was bombed twice by American planes with a loss of more than a thousand lives.

Following his liberation, Taylor was assigned in January 1946 as deputy staff chaplain at Barksdale Field, the base he had left five and a half years earlier for the Philippines.

On July 1, 1958, Taylor was appointed to the grade of brigadier general and assumed his duties as deputy chief of Air Force chaplains. He was nominated as chief of chaplains for the U.S. Air Force in 1962 and took over his duties as chief of chaplains on Sept. 1, 1962. That same year, he also was promoted to major general.

His decorations and awards include the Silver Star, Bronze Star and the Presidential Unit Citation with two oak leaf clusters. Taylor retired from the Air Force in 1966 and died in 1997.

The War Heroes Award is open to former Baylor students who served in the military and whose individual gallant service in connection with military operations against an armed enemy placed their lives at risk. While selection is not tied to a particular award, nominees should have been decorated with an award higher than the Bronze Star.

For more information, contact Bowles at 710-3513.

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