Roma Tolson Taylor, Jr.
Lieutenant Colonel, United States Marine Corps
of the Colonel's Daughter, Sarah Murdock:
Like many of his generation, Roma Tolson Taylor, Jr., sought out the United States Marine Corps on December 8, 1941. Born in Sarasota, Florida, on September 30, 1921, he was the eldest of three children. He enjoyed baseball, fishing, the water, and as an eagle scout, had an intense appreciation of outdoor life.
He joined the Marines with his three best friends, believing they would all remain stationed together. When that didn’t quite work out, the Marines offered him an opportunity to fly fighter planes, and receive an officer’s commission, which he pounced on with enthusiasm. He loved his F4U Corsair, “LE-21”, even though Roma, Sr. had advised him that “If God intended men to fly, they would’ve been born with wings.” Mickey, as he was affectionately known by his family, was proud to wear those gold wings on his chest, and did so throughout his 30 year career in the Corps.
He married Emily “Patsy” Poleyette in 1949, six months later receiving orders to Korea. During the Korean War he served as an engineer, participating in the highly successful Inchon landing. He plotted and disarmed land mines and was severely wounded while trying to rescue a family of Korean civilians stranded in a minefield. Given the option of evacuation for recovery, he chose instead to remain with the young Marines whom he had trained.
In the mid 1950’s he served as a military advisor in Taiwan. He was very interested in Chinese culture and language and thoroughly enjoyed the challenges brought by learning both. The Army borrowed him briefly to teach mine warfare at Ft. Belvoir, Virignia. His reputation to “booby-trap” the classroom on the first day of class was well known and eagerly anticipated by his students.
While assigned to the Pentagon in the early 1960’s, he pursued a Military History degree from the University of Maryland, receiving his degree, cum laude, in 1963. Working all day, going to school at night, prepared him for the busy road waiting for him in Vietnam. He landed his 1st Shore Party battalion in 1965 and was tasked to build the airstrip at Chu Lai. He motivated his engineers to make quick work of it because tankers and supply trucks were also needing new roads cut through jungle areas; so much to be done.
Someone must have liked the Chu Lai airstrip, which can still be seen on topographic maps, because Colonel Taylor, with his 8th Engineer battalion at Camp Lejeune, was assigned to build another airstrip at Bogue Sound in the late 1960’s. Navy and Marine aviators still use it today for “touch & go” exercises training for carrier landings.
In 1971, Colonel Taylor retired from the Corps he loved. However, his service didn’t end as he continued to serve his community on the Jacksonville Board of Realtors as well as the Onslow Association of Retired Officers. He enjoyed sailing with his wife and was a member of the Ragged Point Yacht Club at Camp Lejeune.
Colonel Taylor passed away September 7, 1999. By the grace of God he was spared the distressing events of 9/11/2001.
During the course of his career he received
the Bronze Star w/ Combat V, the US Meritorious Service medal, the Navy-Marine
Corps Commendation Medal with Combat V, the Purple Heart, as well as campaign
ribbons and service medals too numerous to mention. He is sorely missed
by his wife of nearly 50 years, Patsy; his only child, Sarah; only son-in-law,
Robb Murdock; his beloved grandsons Michael and Tommy Murdock; and his
only sister, Katherine Taylor Webster.