Taylor grew up in Carolina small towns and tobacco farms but went international at an early age when, as an Army brat during the Korean Conflict, he learned the nuances of back-alley Japanese in Tokyo and mastered the fine art of winning Japanese cigarettes in the pachinko parlors. He also discovered his intolerance for excessive alcohol with the headaches of Kirin beer.
Despite his father's advice (an Army man himself), Taylor joined the Army Reserve while still in high school and, after graduating on a Thursday, boarded a Greyhound Bus for Fort Jackson and basic training the following Sunday. As Taylor tells the story, "...I was too short to see what was going on from the back of the formation..." To correct this problem he used ROTC to bolster his otherwise mediocre grades and gain a commission in the Regular Army as a Distinguished Military Graduate from the Georgia Institute of Technology - to finally live his dream - to be a Army Paratrooper with the famous Screaming Eagles, serving first with the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (made famous to the current generation in "The Band of Brothers" HBO mini-series) and then 501st Signal Battalion (ABN) at Fort Campbell, KY. He further proved the academic advisors at Georgia Tech wrong when he completed both the 101st Airborne Division Jumpmaster and Air Delivery Courses as honor graduate.
Continuing his desire to see the world, he and his platoon were attached to the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division and deployed to Vietnam in 1965 where he discovered Biere LaRue, more often known as "tiger piss" and rumored to be used interchangeably for formaldehyde, and Ba Moui Ba, or, in the more elegant French, Biere 33, the finer of the two Vietnamese beers. Ah, more headaches. The Brigade remained on jump status and Taylor made one jump at Dong Ba Thin with the 5th Special Forces Group training Vietnamese troopers, a jump at Ahn Ky into a rice paddy shared with a water buffalo and one in the briar patch that was to become the Phan Rang airfield.
Once again defying the wisdom of the academics, he graduated with honor from the Infantry Officers Advance Course (Taylor's Infantry School Advance Course report on platoon ops with the Airborne in VN) and instructed at the Fort Benning Infantry Center before completing his Masters of Industrial Engineering with a minor in Operations Research at North Carolina State University at Raleigh, to be rewarded by a second fully-funded tour of Southeast Asia. There, Taylor served with the 20th Engineer Brigade, the direct linage descendent of the 1128th Engineer Combat Group, whose battalions and separate units were decisive in holding the line at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge during WWII. As was common in Vietnam, he finished his tour on the II Field Force staff (a Corps headquarters) as the Signal Plans and Operations Officer. Next came battalion and Combat Development staff assignments in interesting locales such as historic Fortress Monroe and Bavaria, where he became a connoisseur of jaeger schnitzel, apfel schnapps, ski slopes and the many regional beers of Bavaria.
Again facing down the trials of the classroom at the Armed Forces Staff College, Taylor followed with an intensive bit of nuclear weapons on-the-job-training and served in the Office of the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations as the Army Strategic Nuclear Plans and Programs staff officer. Finally escaping the Pentagon's Alas, Babylon environment, he joined the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force in Florida during its evolution into US Central Command and enjoyed the benefits of exotic and fun-filled operations in the Middle East while learning about the wonders of Stella beer - the Cairo version and taste-wise a close cousin of Biere LaRue - and taking a Russian's place in the bowels of an Egyptian Air Defense complex. And was pleased to return to active jump status.
Twenty years after his first assignment with the 101st Airborne Division, he returned to Fort Campbell where, under the careful supervision of hard-eyed, grizzled instructors (born the same year Taylor first joined the Division), he survived Air Assault School, commanded the 501st Signal Battalion (Air Assault) and served as the Division Signal Officer. Taylor finally got to move to the front of the formation where he could see what was going on.
Following a return assignment back on jump status with Central Command, Taylor retired from the Army to work as a telecommunications system engineer on military C4I programs and as a project manager for advanced technology R&D programs at such diverse locations as Bell Labs in New Jersey, the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Indiana and Western Electric Saudi Arabia in Riyadh, with a focus on satellite communications systems. Much to his surprise, he found himself traveling to Europe and the Middle East, and continuing to monitor Stuttgarter Hofbraeu quality.
After auditing classes on the craft of writing at the University of South Florida and attending workshops by notable authors including Ann Turner Cook, Barbara Parker, Sterling Watson and Les Standiford. Taylor volunteered at the USF Suncoast Writers Conference for many years where he had the opportunity to meet and learn from many other accomplished authors. Taylor now writes and lives on the Florida suncoast where he has discovered Tampa's many craft beers and Honduran cigars. Click on Writing Adventure for his trek to being an author, with roots in Vietnam.
J. M. Taylor’s first novel, FLASH OF EMERALD, was released in March 2004 and won the 2004 EPPIE award for Best Thriller, followed by BEHIND THE GREEN WATER, released in June, 2004. Next in queue was a second Florida suncoast action/adventure thriller, GULF WINDS, which won the Florida Writers Association 2007 Royal Palm Literary Award First Place for Mystery/Thriller (Unpublished). His first two novels have gone out of print with the demise of their publisher, and subsequently he has re-edited and published them with new titles, LOST KEY and DESERT WINDS. At the urging of fellow members of the 101st Airborne Association, he sidetracked a bit to publish MISSING STICKS, a fictionalized account of the Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne Division, their buddies and those friends and enemies they met on the ground that faithful night of June 6th, 1944. He followed with ONE STICK AND A WACO, set during the Allied thrust into Holland and SNOW STICKS, set during the Battle of the Bulge and the siege of Bastogne, to complete his WWII trilogy of novels.
Click HERE for an Interview published in the Sun Eagle.
Next up: DEADLIER THAN CHERNOBYL, set in present-day Ukraine, introduces Matt Ross, a nuclear weapons expert, and Ulf the Dutch Shepherd bomb dog, up to their ears in the radioactive debris stirred up by the Russian army at Chernobyl. Then, if all goes well, comes an add-on to the STICK Trilogy: THE LAST STICK, where Max the German Shepherd returns to duty during Operation VARSITY, the final and biggest Allied airborne operation of WWII. And, just maybe, a fifth novel featuring the Geronimo troopers of 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment and agents operating out of the OSS Office in Italy.
Taylor is a life member of the 101st Airborne Division Association and Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the 101st Airborne Division Association, the Military Officers Association of America, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Association of the United States Army and a member of the American Legion, Florida Writers Association, Military Writers Society of America and the Mystery Writers of America.
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