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Brothers-in-arms

February 2024
1min read

In 1942, after all five of the Taylor brothers had enlisted to fight in World War II, they posed for this group portrait, sent to us by Alton Taylor, of Queens, New York. He is at the far right.

 
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In 1942, after all five of the Taylor brothers had enlisted to fight in World War II, they posed for this group portrait, sent to us by Alton Taylor, of Queens, New York. He is at the far right. With him are, from left to right, Moses, a Navy seaman who served at Bataan and Corregidor in a gun crew that provided landing-craft support when the islands were retaken; Dona, who saw action in the Army Air Corps in the Pacific; Wilbur, the last of the Taylors to sign up, who was barred from going overseas because of the Sullivan Act (which prevented whole families from serving in a combat zone at the same time) and was in a stateside Navy band that, although integrated, permitted blacks to perform only for black audiences; and Luther, who spent thirty-six months with an Army Truck Company driving “in combat and blackout over all types of terrain,” according to the citation that lists his two Bronze Stars for valor during action. Alton, with the 4th Marine Division, supported the first American ground offensive in the Pacific at Guadalcanal.

Here are the brothers in 1991: Dona, Alton, Moses, Luther, and Wilbur. After the war Alton was a trackman driving heavy machinery for the New York subway system. “Every single bridge and tunnel in the city that a train runs over, I worked on,” he says. Dona became the pastor of a Queens church and Moses the minister of a Long Island City congregation. Luther was a floor manager at Harlem Hospital, and Wilbur joined his brother in the subway system, becoming New York City’s first black motorman. All are alive and well.

We continue to ask our readers to send unusual and unpublished old photographs to Carla Davidson at American Heritage, Forbes Building, 60 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011. Please send a copy of any irreplaceable materials, include return postage, and do not mail glass negatives. We will pay one hundred dollars for each one that is run.

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