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Charles Robert "Bobby" Taylor was a United States Marine who was killed on the USS Oklahoma when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. His remains were identified on July 26, 2021. He is the last Marine of the Oklahoma detachment to have his remains identified.

Background

Charles Taylor was born on November 16, 1918 in Viola, Kansas to William and Helen Taylor. William was a successful hardware and tractor salesman who moved his family in the mid-1920s to Chickasha, Oklahoma to manage a store for the Massey-Harris Implement Company. William and Helen were well-off enough in Chickasha that could raise their four children and afford a live-in housekeeper named Teresa Shellnut and her two daughters. After Helen passed away in 1929 from complications following a major operation at the hospital, William married Shellnut.

Growing up, Taylor was nicknamed "Bobby" and spent his teenage years in a blended household with three biological siblings and two step-siblings, one of which was his age. He graduated from high school and attended one year in college. By the time he was twenty-one years old, he was still living with his family at Carnegie, Oklahoma and worked as a grocery clerk. He was also active at the local Methodist church and the Carnegie Masonic lodge.

On May 8, 1940, Taylor enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and was sent to San Diego, California for boot camp. There he proved to be one of the top men in his platoon and was offered a slot at Sea School. On August 9, 1940, he was assigned to the USS Oklahoma. In the Fall of 1941, he was promoted to Private First Class. At some point, Taylor suffered a wrenched knee at a basketball game, but aside from this, life at the USS Oklahoma would remain uneventful before the Pearl Harbor attack.

Pearl Harbor

At about 7:48 AM on December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service conducted a surprise military strike against the United States at the naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The USS Oklahoma was one of the first ships to be attacked. The ship was torpedoed and capsized. Taylor was killed during the attack, though their exact circumstances are unknown. Their remains were located between 1941 and 1944, but not identified. As a result, they was considered Missing in Action while their remains were buried in the Punchbowl at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Overall, 2,335 Americans were killed in the attack, four hundred and twenty-nine, including Taylor, were on the USS Oklahoma. The surprise attack led to US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to declare December 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy". The following day, the US Congress declared war on Japan which led to the United States' formal entry into World War II.

Aftermath

Taylor's family was informed of his disappearance and presumed death on January 29, 1942. He was later declared killed in action in February of 1942. A memorial service was held for him on March 15, 1942 at the local high school auditorium in Carnegie and was conducted by the American Legion. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart. His name is featured on the USS Oklahoma Memorial and the Honolulu Memorial of the Courts of the Missing in Honolulu Memorial, Hawaii. Additionally, he has a memorial marker at the Carnegie Cemetery in Carnegie.

In September 1947, the American Graves Registration Service was tasked to identify unknown soldier's remains from the Pacific Theatre. However, they were only able to identify thirty-five of the crewmen from the USS Oklahoma. In October 1949, the American Graves Registration Service ruled Taylor, along with many soldiers whose remains were not identified, as unrecoverable.

Identification

In 2015, the Department of Defense and the Defense POW/MIA accounting agency initiated a program to exhume the unidentified sailors of the USS Oklahoma to try and match their DNA against the DNA of family members whose loved ones were never identified. Scientists at the DPAA used anthropological analysis and scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis to identify the servicemen.

Through these methods, Charles Robert Taylor was identified on July 26, 2021. His identification was announced on August 11, 2021.

Sources

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