Jack Hendrick Taylor was America’s first Sea, Air, and Land commando who pioneered operations core to the U.S. Navy SEALs.
At the outbreak of WWII, the thirty-two-year-old Taylor had been a working towards orthodontist in Hollywood, California. Far faraway from his skilled lifetime of fixing enamel, Taylor was a person of motion and grasp of the ocean, who possessed knowledgeable boat-handling abilities and introduced with him a lifetime of expertise and journey, making him the right match for a brand new department inside the Office of Strategic Services – the Maritime Unit (MU).
Charged with executing maritime operations and sabotage behind enemy traces throughout WWII, Jack Taylor emerged as one of many unit’s earliest and most outstanding members. Taylor was pivotal in testing the Lambertsen Amphibious Respiratory Unit (LARU), a complicated underwater rebreather developed by the OSS and key to covert underwater missions. He was additionally a founding member and pioneer within the first Underwater Swimmer Group. These improvements in techniques and know-how laid the groundwork for future Navy SEAL and U.S. Army Special Forces underwater operations.
As MU’s first operative abroad, Taylor skilled for underwater operations in Northern Europe; as an alternative, the battle thrust Taylor into huge expanses of the Mediterranean. His early missions concerned reconnaissance, touchdown brokers, sabotage, and intelligence gathering in operations that could possibly be ripped from the pages of The Guns of Navarone.
Often working with movie icon and OSS operative Sterling Hayden, Taylor shifted OSS Maritime operations to Italy. From right here, the Maritime Unit covertly transported provides and weapons to partisans in Yugoslavia. One of Taylor’s most daring missions (licensed by President Franklin Roosevelt) unfolded in Albania, the place he, with help from Hayden, spearheaded a high-stakes rescue operation to extract stranded American nurses and medics when their airplane crashed behind enemy traces. On a subsequent mission, with the roles reversed, Taylor would discover himself and his group trapped behind the traces after a botched operation to extract them. They would spend weeks avoiding German patrols, strolling a whole bunch of miles to attain Allied positions.
Fearless, daring, and a risk-taker, Taylor volunteered, deliberate, and led the Dupont Mission, OSS’s deepest penetration into Nazi-occupied Austria till then. On October 13, 1944, Taylor’s four-agent group, which included three former German prisoners of battle, Deserter-Volunteers (DVs), perilously parachuted into Austria in the dark at 400 ft. Dropping into an space devoid of partisans, no pleasant reception committee existed to greet them. Making issues worse, the aircrew transporting the mission misdropped containers with the group’s radios right into a lake. Despite being unable to contact OSS headquarters, Taylor gathered intelligence whereas evading the Germans for six weeks till the Gestapo captured the group. Tortured for months and confined to a moist jail cell, Taylor refused to be damaged by his tormentors. Taylor’s story is instructed for the primary time in my bestselling ebook First SEALs: The Untold Story of the Forging of America’s Most Elite Unit.
With the Red Army quickly approaching from the east, the Gestapo transferred Taylor to the infamous Mauthausen Concentration Camp, the place Taylor witnessed and endured the unimaginable: Germans turned the inmates into slave labor and later diabolically executed them by way of machine gun, fuel, injection, hurled over 100-foot cliffs, or fed to canine. The Germans ghoulishly assigned Taylor to a piece occasion setting up a crematorium to disguise their crimes. Taylor quietly fought again by gathering proof of the Nazi’s battle crimes, ultimately securing 13 “death books,” which included a secret code that recorded the reason for every demise within the camp. The Germans scheduled Taylor’s demise 4 occasions, however inmate clerks the OSS operative befriended discovered methods to delay every deliberate date of execution. On May 5, 1945, the eleventh Armored Division liberated the camp, and Jack Taylor had withered from 165 to 114lbs. With a quivering hand, Taylor held up his canine tags and whispered the very first thing that got here to thoughts: “God Bless America.” Taylor’s liberators captured a few of these unimaginable moments that may be watched on wartime footage, beginning at 53 seconds in this extraordinary film.
Despite being feeble and malnourished, Taylor refused evacuation to the comforts of OSS headquarters and continued to fulfill his promise to his former inmates to carry camp officers to justice. A 12 months later, Jack Taylor testified in a subset of the Nuremberg Trials.
For his actions throughout the battle, Taylor acquired the Navy Cross. But Jack Taylor didn’t reside lengthy sufficient to witness the formation of recent SEAL groups and the pioneering efforts of the legacy he helped forge. In May 1959, Taylor died in a airplane crash.
Patrick Okay. O’Donnell is a bestselling, critically acclaimed navy historian and an knowledgeable on elite items. He is the writer of twelve books, together with The Indispensables, Beyond Valor, First SEALs, and The Unknowns. O’Donnell served as a fight historian in a Marine rifle platoon throughout the Battle of Fallujah and sometimes speaks on espionage, particular operations, and counterinsurgency. He has offered historic consulting for DreamWorks’ award-winning miniseries Band of Brothers and documentaries produced by the BBC, the History Channel, and Discovery. PatrickKODonnell.com @combathistorian