LT Robert F. Taylor was born in Chicago, Illinois on December 27, 1938, and graduated from DePaul University, in 1963. He received his commission through the United States Naval Officer Candidate School in New port, Rhode Island.
He served tours at the U.S Naval Radio Station Thurso, Scotland, and on board the USS Camp (DE 251) in the Caribbean. In March 1965 he graduated from the 47 week Russian Basic Course at the Defense Language Institute (DLI), West Coast Branch.
Following his language training, in June 1965 he was assigned to the U.S Naval Security Group Activity (NSGA) Kamiseya, Japan, where he distinguished himself as a highly motivated and dedicated Naval officer. For the next nine months, he flew 250 hours as an airborne evaluator in direct combat support mission from Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam, for which he was awarded the Air Medal.
On April 15, 1969, he flew on an operational mission on an EC-121M from Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron One (VQ-1), while the aircraft was over international waters off the coast of Korea, two North Korean MIG-21s attacked and shot down the aircraft.
LT Taylor perished along with twenty nine other Navy officer and men from VQ-1 and NSGA Kamiseya. The Navy, the Marine Corps, and the Nation are indebted to these brave men who gave their lives for freedom’s sake.
LT Taylor was the Communications Evaluator (COMEVAL). As stated above he graduated from the Defense Language Institute (Russian) in 1967 and building 616 at DLI is named in his honor. At the dedication ceremony, his fellow DLI classmate CAPT John Moore, USN, remembered him as “…a great source of inspiration to me and our fellow classmates. He always saw the brighter side, was always positive and humorous, and convinced us all that we would succeed.
The following is from Michael Taylor, the eldest son of LT Robert Taylor:
My name is Michael Taylor and I am the eldest son of Lt Robert F Taylor. I just stumbled upon this page last week and was excited to see the support and well wishes for the sailors, marines, and their families still all these years later.
In April of 1969, the Taylor family was stationed in Kamiseya after 2 years in Thurso Scotland where I was born. On the day it happened, I was 3 years old, my younger brother Mark Taylor was one and my Mom Eileen Taylor was pregnant with my sister Mary Taylor Byrne. Looking back, I know the worst part of the tragedy was the lack of closure. Of the 31 on board only two bodies were recovered so 29 families were left wondering if some could possibly still be alive. Much added to that theory- the first US reconnaissance plane sent to the crash site noting a possible life raft floating in the water. In addition, the first ships to pick up debris from the crash were Soviet ships, lastly most of the crew on board spoke fluent Russian, Vietnamese, and Korean, and most were highly trained CTs working with the NSA at the time. Any survivors would have been a highly sought after commodity for an adversary of the United States.
My Mom instantly became an advocate for the MIA/POW families and worked tirelessly trying to get closure for ours and so many other families. If you remember during the end of the Vietnam Conflict and into the early eighties, there were countless ‘sightings’ of alive American POWs at secret camps in Vietnam, North Korea, and the Soviet Union. Every time there seemed to some sort of closure a new possibility or grainy picture would break it open yet again. Mom wrote numerous letters to all members of Congress, State Department officials, Defense Department staff, and even the office of the President pleading with them to pressure these foreign governments to look into the possibility of survivors of the EC-121 incident. I even remember in the eighties when the Berlin wall came down thinking that maybe that this is a chance for some new information from the Soviet side to be released about the shoot down but no new information ever came.
My father studied to be a CT along with the Russian language at the Presidio of Monterey back in the early sixties. In the late eighties, they were building some new school buildings and the then commander of the base who had studies with my father proposed Taylor Hall for one of the new buildings. The base is now the Defense Language Institute in Monterey and they still train new CTs and all languages for all branches of the Armed Forces. In Taylor Hall, the plaque tells the story about the ill-fated EC-121 for all the students to see coming in and out of the building. I had the chance to visit with my family back in 2006 and I can tell you that the story of the EC-121 and the crew is revered and remembered for all the CTs training at the DLI. It was a humbling experience to visit but gave a chance for his grandchildren to see the sacrifices that their grandfather and other service members gave on that day in April 1969.
I know every family member, friend, fellow service members have similar stories to tell and have dealt with the same ‘uncertainty’ about the fate of their loved ones so this page is amazing to see that one event in April of 1969 is still vividly remembered to this day. Also, even more so that the region is almost in an identical situation as it was back then.
Great job on the page and keep their memories alive.