Sunday, March 26, 2023

Avenue of Heroes: Hospital Corpsman First Class (HM1) Jeff “JT” Taylor – Navy SEAL

Hospital Corpsman First Class (HM1) Jeff “JT” Scott Taylor

By Coronado Scribe, Mike Lavin, May 2015

The erudite and prescient final letter to his wife of only three months, Erin, speaks so well to defining who Jeffrey Scott Taylor was, as a husband, an American, and a Navy Seal, where he wrote, “Here I am, living my dream which extends out as the farthest-reaching arm to smash those who wish harm on my loved ones and our way of life. Sometimes the great pride is replaced with anger, followed by sadness at the loss of friends that couldn’t be here with me to fight as they also dreamed to do. As far away as I am, I feel at home here, and know this is what I’m meant to do. Not sure if this will give me the closure to move on or solidifies my place in life, only time will tell. The one thing I know without a doubt, is that I look forward to coming home to you, being the best husband I can and loving you for the rest of my life.”

HM1 (SEAL) Jeffrey Scott Taylor died soon after writing that letter, on June 28, 2005, while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan. He lost his life when the MH-47 Chinook helicopter he and fellow special forces were aboard, crashed into the rugged mountains of eastern Afghanistan, after being shot down by enemy forces during an attempt to provide ground support for stranded Navy SEALs in what was coined, Operation Red Wing. Jeffrey had deployed to Afghanistan just three months earlier, in April 2005.

Jeffrey spent his first 18-years in Beckley, West Virginia (WV), the son of Gail and John Alex Taylor, III. He graduated from Independence High School in Coal City, WV, where he excelled in sports. “Jeff was an expert outdoorsman who loved sky diving, BASE jumping, rock climbing, adventure sports, hunting, and shooting and his family.”

Jeffrey enlisted in the Navy on June 20, 1994, and completed basic training in Great Lakes, Ill., in August 1994. He went on to graduate Field Medical Service School in Camp Lejeune, N.C. He served as a medic on a SEAL quick-response team, a Basic Airborne, and was a Military Freefall Parachute school graduate. In addition to SEAL Team TEN, Jeff’s previous duty stations include the Navy Medical Center – Portsmouth, the 2nd Marine Division – Camp Lejeune, SEAL Team Eight, and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). He re-enlisted for three years, and had hoped to go into an officer-training program.

It was when Jeff came to Coronado, California, where he completed Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training, that he met his wife, Erin, a Coronado High School graduate.

Taylor was part of a dedicated Naval Special Warfare team fighting the Taliban, a fundamentalist regime that a U.S. led coalition knocked from power in Afghanistan in 2001. However, the Taliban continued to conduct guerrilla operations, particularly along the Pakistan border. Taylor worked to help ensure al Qaeda terrorists could not train in, nor launch strikes from, Afghanistan following their lethal attack on America on September 11, 2001.

He was assigned to SEAL Team TEN, Virginia Beach, when he, and “seven other SEALs, and eight Army ‘Nightstalker’ Commandos, died in their heroic attempt to rescue SEALs LT Michael Murphy, Matthew Axelson, and Danny Dietz, who fought on the ground courageously, providing protective fire for a fourth squad member to escape, before being killed in the fierce firefight by overwhelming Taliban forces.”

HM1 Taylor’s duty assignments included Recruit Training Center, Great Lakes, Illinois; NSHS San Diego, California; Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, Virginia; Field Medical Service School, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, Naval Special Warfare Center, Coronado, California; SEAL Team EIGHT, Little Creek, Virginia; USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), Norfolk, Virginia; John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center, Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and SEAL Team TEN, Little Creek, Virginia.

For his heroic efforts answering the call of his country, Taylor was decorated with the Purple Heart, Bronze Star for Combat ‘V” for Valor, Navy Commendation and Combat Action Medal posthumously. Other awards included the Presidential Unit Citation, Navy “E” Ribbon, Navy Fleet Marine Force Medal Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (combat). Also, the Navy Battle “E” Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal (4 awards), Navy Fleet Marine Force Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Service Medal (2 awards), Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (3 awards), Expert Rifle Medal and Expert Pistol Medal.

Jeff’s family includes his mother, Gail Bowman; brother, Brandon Eston Cox; his father, John Alex Taylor, III; stepmother, Cheryl Gwinn Taylor; and half brothers, Justin Alex Taylor and Josh David Taylor, all of whom reside in West Virginia (WV).

Jeffrey’s home state newspaper reported that, “hundreds of family, friends, and fellow SEALs, filled Cornerstone Freewill Baptist Church…to share their fondest memories of Jeff. The day saw tears and laughter from many as speakers told stories about the man they had known.” Gov. Joe Manchin made an appearance at the service to offer prayers and condolences. Taylor’s SEAL teammates remember him as “an extremely strong leader who knew how to get the job done. He was known as a serious, yet lighthearted person.”

Erin spoke of her husband as “honest, compassionate, and giving to a fault.” She said, “He knew his place was fighting side by side with his best friends to bring peace and avoid future attacks on American soil. Jeff knew his calling.”

Note: Taylor’s “Avenue of Heroes” Banner is displayed on Third Street and F Avenue, standing watch over the approach to Naval Air Station North Island (NASNI), in Coronado, California, May 18, 2015. It would have been his 40th Birthday.

(2) Charleston Gazette (WV).
(3) “Jeffrey Taylor.” Seal Team 8. N.p., n.d. Web.
(4) Correspondences with Erin Taylor

Next week’s Avenue of Heroes biography will be ADMIRAL EDWARD H. MARTIN
By his friend and Coronado Scribe, Thomas Leary, May 12, 2015.