Mount Clemens resident describes military service

By: Alex Szwarc | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published November 5, 2020

 As a member of the Army’s 584th Port Company, Mount Clemens’ James Taylor was responsible for distributing supplies and materials to American troops in Europe during World War II.

As a member of the Army’s 584th Port Company, Mount Clemens’ James Taylor was responsible for distributing supplies and materials to American troops in Europe during World War II.

Photo by Alex Szwarc

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MOUNT CLEMENS — Supplying troops during World War II, a conflict in which over 16 million Americans served, was no small feat.

It’s something that James Taylor knows well as he was on the supply side of making sure Americans were properly equipped during the war.

Born in September 1924 in Mullins, South Carolina, Taylor grew up on the farm, sharecropping products like tobacco, cotton, corn and potatoes.

Now a Mount Clemens resident, where he has lived since 1946, Taylor said at the time he was drafted into the Army in 1944, he worked at a shipyard in Wilmington, North Carolina. He received his basic training in New Orleans, Louisiana.

“We were trained to shut your mouth, do what you’re told, when you’re told and how you’re told to do it,” he said.

Assigned to the 584th Port Company, a segregated Army unit, Taylor was responsible for distributing supplies and materials to American troops in Europe.

Seeing time in England, France, Germany and Belgium, Taylor often drove 10-ton diesel trucks.

Materials delivered ranged from food and clothing to armory and mechanical components.

“A lot of truck drivers delivered supplies sometimes 50 or 100 miles away,” he said. “One time we had a 24-hour trip one way, driving straight through. You prayed that the truck didn’t break down because if you did, there was nobody to call and couldn’t speak their language.”

Taylor explained that materials would arrive daily by ship from the U.S. and a unit was responsible for sending it out to various military units.

When asked what the morale was like among troops, Taylor said they would be worried, scared and praying to safely return home.

When Germany announced its surrender in May 1945, Taylor remembers hearing of the news on the radio.

“Oh man, somebody found whiskey and drank till the morning,” he said. “The people that lived there were also happy.”

Discharged in August 1946 as a sergeant, Taylor moved to Michigan, settling in Mount Clemens.

Taylor’s son, John Taylor, said his father is blessed to have his memory and is like a walking history class.

“It’s good to hear him talk about all the old stuff,” he said. “My favorite story is there was a big guy in his troop that snored real loud and if you didn’t go to sleep before George went to sleep, you aren’t going to get any sleep.”

Having lived for nearly a century, what Taylor wants younger folks to know is that no matter what they do, “to do it to the best of their ability so that when time comes and it has to be done, and they need someone to do it, they can say ‘I can do it.’”  

James Taylor went on to work in a few industries including insurance, manufacturing and sanitation at places like the New Haven foundry, Pontiac Motors and the Mount Clemens Sanitation Department.

He spent about 30 years working for the city, rising in rank from truck driving to supervisor and superintendent of the department, all with a sixth-grade education.

Taylor is said to be the oldest member of Turner Chapel Christian Methodist in Mount Clemens, a congregation he’s been a part of for over seven decades.

He and his late wife Almeta married in 1952. Taylor has three children, seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.  

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