Retired Aug. 1, 1966. Died Feb. 1, 1997.
Chaplain (Major General) Robert Preston Taylor, chief of chaplains, is responsible to the chief of staff, U.S. Air Force for establishing plans, policies, programs and requirements for the Air Force Chaplaincy.
Chaplain Taylor was born in Henderson, Texas, in 1909.
He received a bachelor of arts degree from Baylor University, Waco, Texas, in 1933; a master of theology degree from Southwestern Baptist Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, in 1936; a doctor of theology degree from Southwestern Baptist Seminary in 1939; an honorary doctor of laws degree from Atlanta Law School, Atlanta, Ga., June 1, 1961; an honorary doctor of divinity degree from Tarkio College, Tarkio, Mo., April 15, 1963; an honorary doctor of divinity degree from Baylor University, Waco, Texas, May 24, 1963; and an honorary doctor of humanities, College, of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery, College Clinic, College Hospital, Des Moines, Iowa, June 4, 1965. Elected "Distinguished Alumni of Southwestern Seminary for the Year of 1965," June 2, 1965.
Prior to entering military service in September 1940, Chaplain Taylor served as pastor of the South Fort Worth Baptist Church. His first military assignment was as post chaplain at Barksdale Field, La., in the grade of first lieutenant.
He was next assigned as regimental chaplain of the 31st Infantry Regiment, Philippine Division. He arrived in Manila in May 1941. He was the only chaplain assigned to this regiment which was stationed at famed Cuartel de Espano, within the old historic "Walled City" of Manila. With the declaration of war, the Philippine Division was transferred to the front lines on the Peninsula of Bataan. Chaplain Taylor was cited for bravery and awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action for his services in the Battle of Bataan.
At the surrender of the American forces there, he became a member of that part of the "Death March" which led from Bataan through the streets of Manila, to the prison camp approximately eight miles east of Cabanatuan. He served as chaplain in the prison camp hospital at Cabanatuan where he ministered to more than 10,000 patients. In the summer of 1944, he spent fourteen weeks in solitary confinement for smuggling food and medicine to the patients. He was later taken to Japan and Manchuria on one of the infamous "hellships" which was bombed twice by American planes with a loss of more than a thousand lives.
During the second bombing, Chaplain Taylor was struck in the wrist and leg by flying fragments. Ironically, he was not awarded a Purple Heart since he was wounded by our own forces.
Chaplain Taylor is the only chaplain still in military service who survived the horrors of 42 months of Japanese prison camps.
Following his liberation, Chaplain Taylor was assigned in January 1946 as deputy staff chaplain, Headquarters Army Air Forces Training Command at Barksdale Field, La., the base he had left five and a half years earlier for the Philippines.
Prior to his assignment in December 1957 as chief of the Personnel Division, Office, Chief of Air Force Chaplains, Chaplain Taylor served as wing chaplain, Mather Air Force Base, Calif; deputy staff chaplain, Air Material Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; chaplain for Civil Air Patrol Headquarters, Washington, D.C.; and staff chaplain of the Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
On July 1, 1958 Chaplain Taylor was appointed to the grade of brigadier general and assumed his duties as deputy chief of Air Force chaplains, Headquarters U.S. Air Force.
He was nominated as chief of chaplains, U.S. Air Force Aug. 16, 1962 in his then grade of brigadier general. Chaplain Taylor took over his duties as chief of chaplains on Sept. 1, 1962 and was promoted to the grade of major general Oct. 1, 1962.
His decorations and awards include the Silver Star, Bronze Star and the Presidential Unit Citation with two oak leaf clusters.