Two Steps From Glory: A World War II Liaison Pilot Confronts Jim Crow and the Enemy in the South Pacific

 
9780983867715: Two Steps From Glory: A World War II Liaison Pilot Confronts Jim Crow and the Enemy in the South Pacific

African Americans enlisted by the hundreds of thousands during World War II, swelling the ranks of the U.S. military by more than a million strong. And as they had in every U.S. war from the Revolutionary War on, blacks signed up with two goals in mind: to fight for the country they loved and to earn, on the battlefield, the respect they'd been so long denied at home.

Lieutenant Welton I. Taylor, a lanky kid from the South Side of Chicago, was no different. Trained as a liaison pilot for the Army Field Artillery, he longed to defend his country by directing hailstorms of 155mm howitzer shells onto enemy positions. But Taylor's goals and those of the majority of black soldiers serving during World War II would remain elusive. The U.S. Army believed blacks ill-suited for combat and relegated most black units to labor battalions or the Quartermaster Corps. Even those men who eventually fought in Italy or in the jungles of Bouganville found they were fighting on two fronts--battling not just the enemy, but Jim Crow in the barracks and the mess halls, too. For these men of the Greatest Generation, World War II was just the newest war. The Civil War--long since over but never truly won--raged on.

Deployed to the South Pacific with the all-black 93rd Division, Lieutenant Taylor faced the enemy and the segregated U.S. Army, too, but did as his father had taught him: he played the hand he was dealt. In the process, Taylor outsmarted both the Jim Crow Army and the enemy and proved that race is a poor yardstick by which to judge a man. Two Steps From Glory is his story and that of so many more.

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About the Author:

Welton I. Taylor graduated from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1941 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Field Artillery simultaneously. Called to active duty at Fort Sill, OK, he trained with the 31st Field Artillery Training Battalion then transferred to the 184th Field Artillery Regiment at Fort Custer, MI, after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Singled out by superior officers as a young man of promise, Taylor was sent to the 2nd Army Air Force Liaison Training Detachment in Pittsburg, KS to train as a liaison pilot. He completed Advanced Flight Training back at Fort Sill before deploying to the South Pacific with the 93rd Infantry Division, 596th Field Artillery Battalion. He flew liaison missions on Guadalcanal, New Guinea, and Morotai from 1943 until the end of the war.

Taylor returned to the U. of I. in 1945 and received his M.S. and Ph.D. in microbiology on the G.I. bill. Over the next fifty years, he taught microbiology at the medical schools of the University of Illinois and Northwestern University; did ground-breaking research on preventing bacteriological contamination in the nation's food supply; helped France and Britain eradicate Salmonella in their imported foods; became Microbiologist-in-Chief at Children's Memorial Hospital and a consultant to twelve additional Chicago-area hospitals. He obtained four patents, published forty articles in scientific journals, developed a product still used by laboratories worldwide to certify foods Salmonella-free, and in 1985, had a bacterium named in his honor by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. 

In 2005, Taylor joined the Chicago chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. and returned to his lifelong passion: flying. From then until his death in November 2012, he introduced inner-city children to the joys and challenges of flight and lectured to corporate, civic, and academic groups on the triumphs and frustrations of the Tuskegee Airmen and other black heroes of World War II.

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Maj. Welton I. Taylor; Karyn J. Taylor
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Maj. Welton I. Taylor; Karyn J. Taylor
Editore: Winning Strategy Press (2012)
ISBN 10: 0983867712 ISBN 13: 9780983867715
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