Honoring “Grandma Taylor” – Living Veteran of World War II

On Back Deck99-year-old Marilyn Taylor is a veteran through and through. She is Mom to us and Grandma to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Neighbors, church members, and friends call her “Grandma Taylor.”

Born Into Military Life
On November 28, 1922, Marilyn Marguerite (Metzger) Taylor was born at Schofield Barracks on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, where her father, Colonel Edward Metzger, was stationed. She was literally born into the Army.

As Army life goes, the Metzgers moved frequently. Mom’s growing up memories include stays at Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Knox, Kentucky; Fort Des Moines, Iowa; Camp Jackson, South Carolina; and Fort Benning, Georgia, among many others.

One or more transfers during a school year were common. She remembers having nightmares about trying to find her way in a new school building.

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Ft. Knox Report Card

Fort Knox and General Patton
“I watched as the train arrived in Fort Knox with the gold,” she remembers. “That was where the first tanks were introduced. And paratroopers practiced jumping off a high tower.” Her father, Col. Metzger, was in the mounted army. “I remember the horses,” she reflects.

Col. Metzger was stationed at Fort Knox while General George Patton was there. They had ridden together in pursuit of Pancho Villa under General John “Black Jack” Pershing along the American-Mexican border.

Mom recalls Patton liked things that were rustic and, even though brand new officers’ quarters were available, he chose to live in an old log cabin at Fort Knox.

Col. Edward Metzger

My grandfather (“Grandad” to us) cultivated beautiful roses and once threw a garden party for Patton.  My mother’s job was to walk around and serve fancy peanuts to the guests. Another time she was away at a girls’ camp and Grandad had her driven home because Patton was a dinner guest. He didn’t want her to miss the opportunity to be with the great man. Mom was annoyed, wanting to stay at camp. She remembers conversing with Patton as she served drinks. Her memory of General Patton is “a rather paunchy man with an old face, a high squeaky voice, and a ‘don’t mess with me’ persona.”

Gunnery Instructor
When the United States military entered World War II, Marilyn’s father wasUniform sent to Europe. She wished to help the war effort and  volunteered for duty. She joined the WAVES, the women’s branch of the US Navy. When asked where she would like to serve, she requested hospital work. Instead she was given the job of aerial gunnery instructor, training turret gunners.

She recalls that these young men paid close attention because they knew the danger they would face. They would be fighting, not only for their country, but for their lives. The instructors used simulators to teach lead and lag, shooting from a moving position at a moving target.

The men she trained were deployed into war. Marilyn did her part on the home front while the boys fought battles in the sky. Who knows the impact of her effort? She remains rightfully proud today of her service to her country. The hearts of her family swell when she stands at patriotic concerts to the melody of Anchors Aweigh. Our mom, Grandma Taylor, is a veteran of World War II.

Married a Sailor
Bobby Taylor enlisted in the U.S Navy at eighteen years old and served in the Pacific during World War II. He was assigned to aircraft carriers, first the USS Wasp, then the USS Hornet.

Dad Sailor
Bobby Taylor

In the battle of Santa Cruz, the Hornet was attacked by Japanese torpedo bombers and crash-dived by kamikaze pilots, ultimately causing her to sink. His hometown newspaper records, “The Smyrna boy saw shells fly and his buddies die.”

The surviving seamen were rescued by a Navy destroyer ship that came alongside the foundering Hornet, swung a cargo net within reach of the sailors and brought them to safety.

Bob was returned to the US where he served for three years at the Pensacola Naval Air Station. His duties included supervising a certain WAVE named Marilyn. One day he invited her to lunch.  Three months after meeting, they were married at Christ Episcopal Church in Pensacola. She wore a white WAVE uniform and carried the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, wrapped in white satin and topped by an orchid. Bob Young Ladyand Marilyn Taylor celebrated fifty-four wedding anniversaries before he passed away in 1999.

After the war Bob and Marilyn lived in his hometown of Smyrna, Georgia. He attended the Georgia Institute of Technology with the GI Bill, earning a degree in Structural Engineering that led to his lifelong profession in the steel building industry. He was always proud to be a “Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech” but talked only reluctantly about the harrowing experiences of war.

Patton’s Warning
In the European theater of World War II, the relationship of Marilyn’s father with General Patton continued as he served under Patton in France and Germany. Marilyn shares one remarkable incident her father recounted to her.

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General George Patton

Historical accounts of Patton describe his anti-Soviet views as a threat to relations among the Allies, especially as they neared victory in Europe. Around that time Grandad called Patton with a question. He was surprised when the general himself answered the phone. As their discussion ended, Patton said, “Be **** quick about it. They already got me, and you’re next on the list.”

Shortly after their conversation, in December, 1945, Patton died from injuries sustained in a car accident near Mannheim, Germany. Speculation abounds regarding the true cause of death. Many theorize it was an assassination intended to remove the volatile threat to Allied unity and the Soviet regime.

Col. Edward Metzger, Jr.

Colonel Metzger, Jr.
Marilyn’s only sibling, Edward, Jr. (“Bud”), followed his father’s path in the US Army. He enlisted at eighteen years old and served in a tank division that participated in the World War II invasion of France at the same time as his father. He remained active through the Korean War and Viet Nam War, ultimately being promoted to Colonel.


Both the Colonel Metzgers, father and son, were interred with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. 

Back to Fort Des Moines
During the late 1930’s Marilyn’s family was stationed at Fort Des Moines, Iowa. In 2016, she moved to the Des Moines area with my (Dean’s) family. She has lived with us for the past ten years. A career change brought us to Iowa. Soon after arriving, we took Mom to visit the location of Fort Des Moines. There are a few original buildings remaining and a museum.

The visit prompted many memories, including the horses, the parade ground, and the stately brick officers’ quarters along tree-lined streets. She recalls riding to Lincoln High School in the back of an Army troop carrier that served as their school bus. “I’ll bet those rugged soldiers didn’t sign up to take care of school children,” she says.

One particular building is prominent in her memory. Our helpful guide unlocked the chapel – the original structure from when Mom lived there.

Ft DSM Chapel Outside
Chapel at Ft. Des Moines

Inside, I asked her if she could remember where she sat. Without hesitation she walked to a pew.

Mom’s life included some severe trials. Her mother died of tuberculosis when Mom was very young.  She endured subsequent years with a “cruel” stepmother and the countless moves her family made. Mom remembers gratefully the ft-dsm-chapel-inside-e1573340886488.jpginfluences during her formative years that pointed her to God and the comfort and strength He gave her. We are all amazed when she names Sunday School teachers from her childhood. She loves the Bible, her church, and her Lord to this day.

Bugle Notes
Just a few blocks from where we live in Johnston is Camp Dodge, the headquarters of the Iowa National Guard. We regularly hear the rattle of artillery from the firing range and the 7 am and 5 pm bugle calls.

Marilyn loves these sounds. “We used to ride our bikes on the range, when they weren’t shooting, of course! When Taps sounded, we stopped playing and stood at attention. Then it was time to dress for dinner.” Living near Camp Dodge is like coming home.

At her request, one day the mournful notes of Taps will play, an honor guard will fold the flag, and it will be presented to her loving, grateful family with a slow salute.

Day is done,
gone the sun,
From the hills,
from the lake,
From the skies.
All is well,
safely rest,
God is nigh.

Go to sleep,
peaceful sleep,
May the soldier
or sailor,
God keep.
On the land
or the deep,
Safe in sleep.

Thanks and praise,
For our days,
‘Neath the sun,
Neath the stars,
‘Neath the sky,
As we go,
This we know,
God is nigh.

Thank you for your service, Marilyn, Mom, Grandma. We are proud of you and thank God for you.

Compiled by Petra Hinton (granddaughter), Marguerite Kessler (daughter), and Dean Taylor (son).
Taps lyrics from http://www.usmemorialday.org/taps.

Write On

Old Typewriter“Writers write.”
This observation by Tim Challies has challenged and guided me during 2018. In the past I’ve dreamed of writing, dabbled in writing, planned on writing . . .  This year I’ve made a diligent effort to write consistently and productively.

Being a teacher has given me blocks of time during the past two summers to write. 5:00-7:00 am and evenings during the school year have become regular writing times as well. By utilizing these opportunities I completed a manuscript which I submitted to a publisher last October. The working title is The Growing Body: Church As It Was Meant To Be. It engages church leaders and members with the key New Testament text on church growth. Since then, my writing endeavors have focused on The Pathway to Pastoral Ministry, a step-by-step guide for young men considering the ministry.

Writers pray?
Last month I visited a Christian writers’ group in my community. The meeting began with a time of prayer focused on the group members’ writing projects. That experience challenged me to pray about my own writing. I began to pray that God would provide a publisher for The Pathway to Pastoral Ministry. A little presumptuously, I prayed that a publisher would contact me.

Within a few weeks my path crossed with a ministry leader whose organization publishes books. He had read my articles and he expressed interest in publishing them! I submitted the completed portion for their editorial team to consider. If they decide to publish it, I plan to submit the final manuscript by the end of February. I continue to pray that God will use this material to encourage young men toward pastoral ministry.

Bloggers blog
The blog has been somewhat revived this year. Thanks to the 106 of you who subscribe and follow! Deanhtaylor.com had over 7,900 visitors and more than 10,000 views in 118 countries in 2018. Tim Challies’ tweet encouraging individual bloggers has spurred me to stay at it and blog more frequently in the upcoming year.

Evidently a lot of people search on the topic of butterflies in the Bible. Butterflies Aren’t in the Bible has been viewed over 7,600 times this year! Search terms that lead people here include “butterflies in the Bible” and “what does the Bible say about butterflies.” A group of churches in Great Britain requested permission to publish it in their newsletter, which I gladly granted. I am thankful for the influence of this post.

“It was a dark and stormy night.”
Ideas have been forming in my head and in my journal for a work of fiction. I plan to start writing it in earnest this summer. It will probably take 2-3 years to complete. Here’s my first go at it.

Pastor Steve fastened his seat belt, backed out of the parking space and eased forward, navigating the tight corners of the convenience store parking lot. On the passenger seat was a brown bag. He wondered if any church members had witnessed his early morning purchase.

A slight tinge of conscience distracted him, but the anticipation of indulging in the bag’s contents outweighed any regret he felt. Steve pulled into the empty church parking lot and walked to the front door of the vacant building – the church where he had served for three years. As usual, the lock stuck. He jiggled the key impatiently until it finally turned.

“Friday. Sunday’s comin’.” The constant rhythm of every pastor’s life. Prepare, preach. “It’s time to get ready for Sunday.”

Steve loved to preach. He enjoyed the whole process, from studying a passage of Scripture, to organizing the material into a sermon, to delivering it with passion on Sunday morning. His Friday morning routine was one of his favorite times. Finish writing the sermon. Put the outline into a handout and PowerPoint slides. And pray.

Aware of some unhealthy effects of his brown bag habit, he also believed it helped him. “Everyone has their vices. It stimulates my creativity.” He wouldn’t say so, even to himself, but his habit also temporarily soothed a restless feeling within. If he thought about it, gave it a label, he might have called it inadequacy. At times, fear. 

Steve stood the bag on his desk while he removed his jacket and hung it on the hook on the back of his office door. The aroma of black coffee streaming from his one-cup coffeemaker into his favorite white ceramic cup, the one with Beacon Bible Camp on the side, stirred his still sleepy brain. The promise of soon-to-be-delivered caffeine prompted a slight smile. 

Everything in place, he sat in his desk chair, uncurled the top of the brown bag and reached in.

Well, we’ll see where that goes! It’s a little rough still. That’s something else I’m learning: Writers write, then revise, revise, revise.

Writing better
Two other steps I’m taking to further develop my writing in the next year are reading articles and books about writing and joining the Christian writers’ group I mentioned above. With God’s help I intend to write, write more, and write better. I hope for more readers and greater impact. I’ll report back to you at this time next year!



A Place of Peace

IMG_0406-2In a few days, I will be here. This picture is a sunrise at the Sea of Galilee. I was there 2 years ago. My wife and I, about 20 people from our church, and 20 from other churches will spend almost two weeks together touring the land of Israel. Having been there once before, my anticipation of seeing the Bible in 3-D again is growing.

This place – The Sea of Galilee – is where the men lived and fished when Jesus called them to follow Him. Jesus lived next to it and walked the roads and hiked the hills around it. And he rode with his disciples on it in their boats. One time He slept in the boat. The disciples woke Him up during a life-threatening storm, and He said, “Hush, be still.” And it was.

Storm. Peace.

The Son of God. Lived here. Taught here. Healed here. Calmed this water. Showed His love and power.

He eventually traveled to Jerusalem, about 70 miles to the south. He was crucified there. He rose again. He returned to this place and talked with the disciples. He met them as they returned from a night of fishing but no catching. He gave them fish for breakfast. On the shore. Cooked over a fire.

Fish for breakfast is one of my favorite things in Israel – it’s on most of the breakfast buffets. Delicious. Meaningful. It speaks of Jesus’ power, provision, forgiveness, restoration, and commissioning to ministry. Just like Jesus did with Peter. Just like He has done with me.

I love this place.

A place of peace.

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