Mike and I met in 1962 (I was 15) while I was vacationing in his summer home of Red River, New Mexico, a small mountain village where Mike worked during the summer for his parents and grandparents. Our courtship continued through his years at West Point while I was studying at the University of Kentucky. We were pinned (how proud I was to wear the Army A-pin which was a promise like a fraternity pin, to belong only to each other), engaged and married the day after graduation at the USMA chapel in 1969.
Thus, began our exciting life together in the Army. Short assignments included Ft. Sill twice, Ft. Benning, Duke (1974-1976) for graduate school where daughter, Natalie, was born and serving on the faculty in the USMA English Dept. (1976-1980). Perhaps the most exciting years were 1970 – 1973 in Germany where Mike served as a battery commander for the 2/27th Field Artillery and later aide to Gen. Kraft (commander of the 3rd Armor Division) in Frankfurt. It was there our first child, Rob (USAFA, 1994), was born at 97th General. Those stories and sights could fill a book but for now will just remain in my heart and memories. The army people we met along the way became the fabric of our lives and even continued into the civilian years as we reacquainted with old friends and met new ones on the class reunions, cruises to Alaska and Baltic and our last trip to Ireland shortly before we lost Mike (September, 2013) to a cancer he fought so bravely.
It was on this class trip to Ireland that Mike perhaps left the greatest impact and memory on his classmates in attendance. Asking to speak at the last minute during the invocation, Mike opened his impromptu remarks with a challenge issued by Ulysses as penned by Tennyson. Mike had a remarkable memory and, when added to his forceful recitation, was sure to stir your soul and his spirit made a lasting impression on all he knew and met. In fact, it was later at the 45th reunion during the Chapel memorial and roll call for fallen classmates that Norm Brown, passing away himself a few years later, singled Mike out during his speech.
“Remembering! – in our past there have been many inspiring classmates that have passed on but one of them that personally impacted me was Mike Taylor. While in his last months of life Mike had the courage to attend a mini-reunion in Ireland where at a meal with all classmates and wives gathered, he provided an invocation. Fitz shared this invocation with me and as those at the mini-reunion who also remember Mike’s words will probably also agree, I felt the need to share it with the entire class. In the invocation, Mike told a story about a friend of his suggesting for a New Year’s resolution to pick only one word to contemplate throughout the year. Mike went on to tell our class that his word was “Joy”. He explained how part of the reason for selecting this word was that he was joyful at being able to be with those whose lives and examples have meant so much to him as well as to so many of us. Mike was on inspiration right up to the moment of his death and that is true Joy.”
Military memories began with my visits to West Point to be with my C-4 cadet, Mike Taylor. Those were like fairy tales to me with all the fanfare and pomp. But oh, the Army-Navy weekends were the best! What fun we had in Philadelphia, though I remember sitting on icy bleachers either cow (Junior) or firstie (Senior) year. Still today I get a lump in my throat as I view the yearly national ritual on TV.
The 1969 Army-Navy game, our first post-graduation contest, found us stationed at Ft. Benning, GA for the three week jump school. Mike missed the game totally as he was jumping out of airplanes that day.
Meanwhile, the rather new bride was back in our rented mobile home, watching the game in front of our small rented black and white TV, ironing his starched (until they could stand up straight all by themselves) work uniform called fatigues with my rented ironing board and iron.
Some new brides felt this is not what they signed up for. Me – I would do it all over again in a second. Being married to Mike and becoming a part of the Long Grey Line and Class of ’69 was the greatest blessing one could ever seek.
Funny, but after all the fantastic experiences we had, especially in Germany, I chose to write about the ironing.
We traveled with Gen Kraft in his general’s train and limo, met great diplomats, skied the alps, saw the Eiffel Tower, Roman ruins and Coliseum, tulips of Holland, fjords of Norway, Anne Frank’s hidden room, castles, cathedrals and on and on. Even saw Crete by motorcycle. Yet it was the everyday life of the wife of an army lieutenant that shows the love and devotion to her man and her country.