Chapel Hill: Obituaries

Col. Harry Wallace Taylor, USMC

Col. Harry Wallace Taylor, USMC (Ret.) took his ultimate flight on the evening of November 24, 2017, in Hillsborough, North Carolina, after a valiant battle against Parkinson’s. Col. Taylor was born in Columbia, South Carolina, on January 19, 1920, to William Jesse Taylor and Ellen Duffie Taylor. He was a great-grandson of Dr. and Mrs. John D. Bellamy of Wilmington, North Carolina. His three older brothers, Bellamy, Jeff, and William, predeceased him. Educated in Columbia public schools, he received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1940 from the University of South Carolina, having enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in 1938. He was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.An honor graduate of the Platoon Leaders Class at Quantico, VA, upon graduation from USC, Col. Taylor was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the regular Marine Corps. After USMC Basic School in Philadelphia he was ordered to Dunedin, FL, to assist in training Marines in the maintenance and operation of LVTs (amphibious tractors), which were used in numerous over-the-beach operations in WWII.In 1942, he was ordered to the 2nd Amphibious Tractor Battalion in San Diego, CA, where he married Ruth Alfva Richard, RN, of Newport, RI. He was then promoted to Captain and sent to NAS Pensacola, FL, for training as a naval aviator. In 1943, he was promoted to Major, designated a naval aviator, and sent to MCAS Cherry Point, NC, for training in B25 aircraft. He was named commanding officer of Marine Bombing Squadron 624. In December 1944, Col. Taylor and many members of that squadron were sent to the Southwest Pacific. He was assigned to Marine Bombing Squadron 423, where he led 50 missions against the Japanese in Rabaul, New Guinea, Buka, New Britain, New Ireland, and the Solomon Islands. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement three times.At war’s end, Col. Taylor served as a recruiter for NY, PA, MD, VA and NJ. To interest young men in Marine aviation, he placed a specially painted F4U-4 Corsair in the Baltimore City Hall, the Richmond State House grounds, and in New York’s Times Square.Later in 1946 he was assigned to a transport squadron based in Oahu, Hawaii, to haul replacements and supplies to units in Tsingtao, China, Korea, Okinawa and Guam. In 1948, he was sent to MCAS El Toro, CA, where he served as CO of Marine Night Fighter Squadron 513, flying F6F-5N and F4U-5N aircraft, qualifying for carrier duty. Promoted to Lt. Col., he was sent to the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, then to the Pentagon, where he served in the amphibious warfare section at the USN headquarters. His next assignment was at Cherry Point, where he was executive officer of a jet fighter group, followed by a post in Korea as executive officer of a dive-bomber group. He next served as liaison between Navy Atlantic Air and Marine Atlantic Air. Promoted to Colonel in 1958, he was assigned to NAS South Weymouth, MA, where he was responsible for training Marine reserve pilots and ground crewmen in jet fighter and transport helicopter operations. In 1961, he was assigned to USMC HQ in Norfolk, VA, where he served as G-3 Force Operations and Training Officer. When the US buildup in Vietnam began, Col. Taylor was sent to Danang, where he was Chief of Staff of the 1st Marine Air Wing, conducting combat operations involving jet fighter and attack planes as well as helicopter forces. He returned to the US and retired from the Marine Corps on June 30, 1967. During his flying career he flew over 7500 hours in more than 35 different jets and prop aircraft. Flying F4Us and F6Fs, he executed 18 carrier traps. While on the supersonic passenger jet Concorde as a tourist, the pilot allowed him to sit in the cockpit.Col. Taylor received an MBA from The George Washington University in 1965, which contributed to his later role as executive assistant to the president of Southern Materials, a subsidiary of Lone Star Industries. In the mid-1970s, he retired to Virginia Beach and his beach house in Sandbridge, VA, enjoying his grandchildren’s visits and his hobbies: gardening, fishing and crabbing, beekeeping, restoring antique automobiles, ballroom dancing, and traveling the world. Later, he moved to Florida and continued to enjoy life, but also serve, volunteering on his neighborhood’s emergency and security squads. Over the years, he visited more than 55 countries, including 50 Elderhostel and biking tours. He fostered a love of travel in his daughters and took them on an East African safari in 1976. He also sent them on a trip with retired officers to the then Soviet Union, a tour that included two former Tuskegee airmen. Col. Taylor made three voyages to Antarctica, a continent that completely captivated him. His last trip there, while he was in his 70s, included the South Pole. Later in life he took rugged trips to Burkina Faso, Mali, and Papua New Guinea. He climbed Mt. Snowdon, Wales, with his daughter Sherry when he was 78. His last adventure was moving to Chapel Hill, NC, in 2013 to be near his family. And although a USC Gamecock, he became a Tar Heel fan.His first wife, Ruth Richard, and his second, Arlene S. Taylor, predeceased Col. Taylor. His survivors include his loving family: his daughters by Ruth, Patricia Thompson (Charles), and Sherry Jones (Rodney), his beloved granddaughters Gudrun Thompson (Jeff Sumpter), and Katie Jones, his dear grandson Fletcher Thompson (Gretchen), and his great-granddaughters Azalea Thompson and Julia Sumpter, who were the lights of his life in later years.The family would like to acknowledge and thank the following special people and organizations: Thomas C. Keyserling, MD, UNC Healthcare; the staff of Alamance Hospice, especially Jeannine Crawford, RN, who shepherded Harry in his last months; the staff of Brookshire Nursing Center, Hillsborough, especially Dee Bigelow, LPN; and the staff of Brookdale Senior Living, Chapel Hill, where he lived for four years.Arrangements by Cremation Society of the Carolinas. Interment with full military honors will be at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Alamance Hospice, 914 Chapel Hill Rd., Burlington NC 27215; the Bellamy Mansion Museum, 503 Market Street, Wilmington NC 28401; the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, 18900 Jefferson Davis Highway, Triangle VA 22172; or the Parkinson’s Foundation. The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.St. Augustine

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