One of Macon’s last remaining Pearl Harbor survivors has died.
Lamar Taylor, who made it a personal mission to keep Dec. 7, 1941, in Middle Georgians’ minds each year, was 94. The retired Navy commander died Wednesday morning after an extended illness, according to his family.
Taylor was an annual part of The Telegraph’s remembrances of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He typically would call the newspaper before each anniversary, and he spoke to local school and civic groups whenever asked.
“He just felt that it played a strong part in history, of who we are and how the country came together in a time of need,” Taylor’s son Lamar Sanford Taylor Jr. said Wednesday. “There wasn’t a flag that he didn’t salute when he passed by.”
Taylor also was a fixture at local Little League games, having coached in the Vine-Ingle league for many years. He followed his granddaughter’s Mount de Sales Academy girls soccer team with a vocal passion, standing out in the crowd. When the team won last year’s state championship, players wouldn’t leave the field “until pop was out there with them,” his son Jack Taylor said.
Taylor wrote frequent letters to the Telegraph’s editorial page, often to mark patriotic holidays.
“On Memorial Day, we will honor those who fought and died to preserve our freedom,” he wrote in May 2004. “We set aside this single day to consider the sacrifices made by so many patriots. ... Let’s pause, pray and pay tribute to all who have served and are serving in our armed forces, plus let’s remember their loved ones and families.” Taylor and some of his friends were on leave the night before Japan’s bombers attacked the Pearl Harbor naval base.
They arrived back on base during the attack, and Taylor’s battle station on the USS California already was under water, he told The Telegraph in 2002.
“After the planes departed, we formed teams to get people out,” he said. “We cut through a steel deck and were able to rescue 10 or 12 people. Then we went down a couple of decks and found a guy up to his neck in water who was trapped. We got him out, but the heat of cutting through the metal seared his arm.”
Taylor and other Pearl Harbor survivors kept track of each other, and late last year he told The Telegraph there were 43 left in Georgia. Four of them were in Macon, including himself, he said. Nationally, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association has about 4,000 members, association president Arthur Herriford said Thursday.
Taylor is survived by his two sons and a daughter, Celeste Burkards. A brother, Jack Taylor, died in a Japanese POW camp during World War II. It was something Taylor mentioned often in recounting his own story.
Snow’s Memorial Chapel on Cherry Street in downtown Macon has charge of the funeral arrangements, with a service set for Friday at 2 p.m. at Ingleside Baptist Church.
To contact writer Travis Fain, call 744-4213.