Joe Ann Tailor cried uncontrollably and emotionally as she heard her father’s voice for the first time in 19 years since he sadly passed away. Her father, Joe George Taylor, was telling a story he had never told anyone; but realised it was now TIME.
Joe George’s oral history recording was made with the University of North Texas and is the only record of the full story of that day. His daughter said it was a gift from God, a blessing and so wonderful.
The war story
Seventy-six years ago on the 7th December 1941, Pearl Harbour was attacked by Japanese fighters. The forward ammunition magazine on the USS Arizona exploded and over one thousand marines and sailors died.
Donald Stratton and Lauren Bruner were two that survived that day. Their story goes that they were aboard the USS Arizona when the explosion happened; they clamoured onto the ‘hot steel deck’ to join other men who were so badly burned and dying. They looked for a way to save their lives against all odds.
The USS Vestal was tied up alongside Arizona. A sailor onboard the Vestal saw the situation and started attempting to throw the stranded and desperate sailors a salvation line. After a few goes, the line was secured, and Stratton and Brunner struggled 70 feet with a hand-over-hand action to get off the burning boat to safety. They never knew the name of the sailor who saved their lives and their story was recorded in history books as having their lives saved by an unknown sailor.
The unknown sailor’s war story
Joe George Taylor was a wild boy who frequently got himself in trouble. He was an amateur heavyweight boxer who celebrated his winnings with a drinking session and so would get himself into another ‘unofficial’ fight.
MP’s escorted him back to the Vestel that night and that’s where he was on that fateful morning.
‘I’m that unknown sailor that whoever wrote the book didn’t find’ he recorded in his oral history session.
‘They were surrounded by fire on Arizona. They were stranded over on the ship and they were trying to get off’ he further stated.
The Family’s story
‘For me, personally, and my family. That’s the most wonderful thing…that now, he’s not the unknown sailor; he’s known as the man who did what he did’. History now recognizes that Joseph L. George received the Bronze Star for his actions on December 7, 1941.
The original story was written by David Martin as the Cover Story for CBS Sunday Morning. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/an-unknown-sailor-no-more-pearl-harbor-attack/