Story and Photos by Alice Gerard
Senior Contributing Writer
The sun shone brightly over the DeGlopper Memorial on May 29 as Chris Taylor told the story of the uncle that he never knew to an assembled crowd.
“Philip C. Taylor was the son of Chuck and Doris Taylor and was the oldest of their five children,” Taylor said. “In 1968, he left Grand Island to attend West Virginia University. Shortly after his freshman year, he enlisted in the Army/”
Taylor said his uncle, then a sergeant and a member of the third squadron, 17th regiment, 12th aviation group, was killed while serving as an observer on a Scout helicopter about 8 miles southeast of the city of Snuol, Kracheh Province, Cambodia. The helicopter was hit by heavy fire and crashed. The crash was described as “unsurvivable.” The two men were listed as “missing in action, presumed dead.”
Philip C. Taylor’s body and the body of the pilot, Lt. Thomas Knuckey, could not be recovered because of “heavy enemy action” in the area.
Taylor was posthumously granted a Distinguished Service Cross for “exceptionally valorous actions,” Chris, an Air Force veteran and co-owner of Certified Autobrokers, said.
“I was not born into the family of a killed in action service member. I was born into the family of a missing in action service member,” he said. “My grandparents and each of their siblings dealt with the loss in different ways. I can never recall my grandparents speaking about him. I’ve asked my family if this recollection is correct, and they confirmed that their parents rarely spoke of it. I can only assume, but am not certain, that the loss was unbearable. Speaking of it only brought pain they could not endure.
“My aunts and uncles had different ways of communicating to us children about what had happened. My father was the most outspoken. My father, unlike my grandparents, coped by wearing his big brother on his sleeve. He had walls dedicated to his service and sacrifice. He had spent countless hours reading and collecting everything he could on his brother’s service and his final moments. He would tell anyone willing to listen about his big brother and the sacrifice that he made.”
In August 1993, Taylor’s grandparents were informed that the remains of their son, as well as those of Knuckey, had been recovered. They were returned to the United States and were buried together in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
Taylor said he shared his uncle’s story because it was the story he knew best of the 17 servicemembers honored at DeGlopper Memorial. He encourages people to share stories of their own family members.
“I share this story so that you may share it someday,” he said. “Or you may become familiar with another person’s story, and you could share their story. Or maybe your family at some point, in its history, has lost a loved one in action. Share that story. Or maybe your neighbor, friend or coworker lost someone in action. Share that story. Whatever you do, share a story. Honor these men and women by making sure that their sacrifice is never forgotten.
“We have all heard the words, ‘Gone but not forgotten.’ While very powerful, those are just words. We must take action to make sure our country’s bravest men and women are truly never forgotten. We must tell their stories.
“Let us renew our commitment to the ideals to which our fallen heroes fought and died. Let us strive to make our country worthy of their sacrifice. Let us honor their memory by living our lives in a way that honors their courage, their devotion and their sacrifice. May God bless our fallen heroes and their families. May God bless those who serve our country today. And may God bless the United States of America.”