Gaylen and Joan Taylor

 

The year was 1950. It was December. The cold was settling in to Westmoreland, Kan. Far away there was a problem.
In June of that year, North Korea had decided to invade South Korea. North Korea had backing from China and the Soviet Union. South Korea, had the United States.
So while Goodnight Irene, Harbor Lights, or the Tennessee Waltz by Patti Page, were playing on the radio, young men were getting notices to go fight for their country. They received a letter that stated you were being called to report for induction.
When those notices arrived in Westmoreland, everyone seemed to know. The rule was if it stayed in the mail box, you hadn’t received it yet; draftees still had a chance to enlist and join the branch of the military you chose.
Gaylen Taylor, Gardner, decided it was better to enlist than to be assigned. So at 20 years of age, he left the letter in the mailbox, and he enlisted in the Navy.
There were three young men from Westmoreland who made the trip to Kansas City to begin their careers in the military.
From Kansas City, Taylor headed west by train to San Diego, Calif. It was a two day trip.
He was then put on a ship and headed for ports to the south. He traveled through the Panama Canal. He visited places like Port au Prince. He went to Puerto Rico and spent time shuttling Marines to Isla De Vieques, where they would take the island in military maneuvers and then be forced back to Puerto Rico.
Troops were moved every six months.
Taylor was sent to Greenland where there was nothing — No base, no town, — nothing.
Their ship traveled with an “ice breaker,” but troops ended up being stuck going backwards for a day, caught up in the ice.
Servicemen worked 24 hour days shifts. They unloaded equipment and supplies, so the military base at Thule could be built.
Taylor recalls the longest day of the year, June 21, when the sun never seemed to move from the same spot in the sky. Since it was summer, and daylight almost all day long, the temperatures were in the 60’s and even 70’s.
Although he and others took the tests every six months to move upward in rank, and he passed them, there was a freeze in promotions. So he stayed a Seaman.
The Korean conflict military action ended on July 27, 1953, when an armistice was signed.
Taylor stayed in the Navy until Sept. 10, 1954. He returned back to Kansas, with his wife Joan, also from Westmoreland, and son Maurice.
He went back to work for Reno Construction Company and worked there for about 56 years.