Email from Joe Bates on January 6, 2008
His dads name was Bill Taylor who died when Ben was very young. Bill
Taylor was in the same line as Blaine Taylor in Whitaker -- above Seco,
His mother was Mattie Bates Taylor. She was in the same Bates line as Martin Bates of Thornton, Kentucky.
We moved to Millstone when I was 12 years old. Ben was 18 or 19 years old.
He rode an Indian motorcycle. He was good to me and let me ride behind him, and from then on I admired him.
He joined the army in 1948, on the way to Louisville to be sworn he got into a fight on the bus, he bit the other fellow’s fingers off and he was sent back to Millstone until 1949.
He went into the army in 1949 and stayed until he retired about 1972.
He was the Letcher county sheriff for 8 years.
Ben and I would come home on leave at the same time and spent most of our time in The Pound or Norton, Virginia drinking and fighting whomever cared to take us on. We were both single until I was 30 and he was older before we settled down.
He spent about all of his military time in the airborne and Special Forces, I spent most of my time as a diver.
Ben and I talked a lot about him working from the sky and me working underwater.
Back to bens mother, she raised Ben and his sister by having a one room store on the old road in millstone in competition with the southeast commissary and she did well. Her little store was still going when the commissary closed.
Ben was a combat soldier of Korea and Vietnam wars and was highly decorated. He was the most decorated veteran from Letcher County, Kentucky.
He was a big brother to me and I have been heartbroken with his passing.
I wanted to go to Arlington but could not due to some biopsies that had to be taken that day.
May his soul rest in peace.
Late sheriff will get honors at Arlington
Mountain Eagle 12/19/2007
Ben Buster Taylor of Millstone, a highly-decorated veteran and a former Letcher
County sheriff, died December 12 at the age of 71 after a long battle with cancer.
His ashes will be buried with full military honors January 4 at Arlington National Cemetery.
At Letcher County's annual Veterans Day celebration this year, the day of November 10 was declared "Ben B. Taylor Day" in honor of the retired sergeant major with the United States Army Special Forces, known also as the Green Berets.
Letcher County Judge/Executive Jim Ward said of Taylor, who was unable to attend the event, he "bravely served his country for over 20 years through two wars and remains today as one of the county's most highly decorated war veterans."
Taylor served in both Korea and Vietnam and was one of the first regular Army soldiers to join the Special Forces. Taylor represented the Green Berets as a pallbearer during the funeral of former President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in November 1963. His rank of sergeant major is the highest an enlisted person can hold in the U.S. Army.
After leaving the military, Taylor owned and operated a trucking company before being elected Sheriff of Letcher County.
In 2004 he established the Letcher County Veterans Memorial Museum. He spent countless hours gathering military-related memorabilia for the museum so community members can view some of the military history of the county.
"I wanted to have something to show Letcher Countians about veterans of this county," Taylor told The Mountain Eagle in August 2004.
Remembering Ben 'Buster' Taylor
Mountain Eagle January 8, 2008
To the Editor:
On January 4, 2008, it was my privilege and honor to witness the burial of CSM (R) Ben "Buster" Taylor in plot 64 of Arlington National Cemetery. It was clear, cold, windy day unable to shake or quiver the professionalism of the soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry (the Old Guard) and the Masons that helped to lay to rest Ben Buster.
As I stood there, I wondered if the citizens of Letcher County realized what a tremendous loss to our nation the passing of Ben Taylor was.
Around me were men Ben had served with in the fields of Vietnam. I wondered what stories they could tell about the experience of serving with "Jake". Ben told me the first time I met him in the old Whitesburg Post Office (former site of the Letcher County Veterans Museum) that his nickname when he was a soldier was "Jake."
Ben was in the first U.S. Army unit designated as a Special Forces unit. Special Forces are often the first in and last out. They operate in 12-man teams working with indigenous forces trying to mold and shape U.S. foreign policy. Their tasks are thankless and their motto is "de oppresso liber" - free from oppression. They are the silent warriors that protect our nation and its way of life. Ben was one of the founding members of this elite group of warriors that today serve across the
world helping to liberate from oppression.
As many folks in Letcher County know, Ben was selected to be the Army Special Forces representative to help escort President Kennedy's caisson from the U.S. Capitol building to its interment. In the visitor center of Arlington National Cemetery is a picture of President Kennedy's casket (on the caisson) with members of the Department of Defense escorting it. If you look real close, you can see a Green Beret (Ben "Buster" Taylor). In an organization of so many special people (all volunteers), what kind of man is selected to represent a unique breed of warrior? What kind of soldier represents those silent professionals is arguably one of the greatest moments of grief in our nation's history - the funeral of President John F. Kennedy? The answer is Ben "Buster" Taylor.
Ben went on to achieve the rank of command sergeant major (CSM), the highest enlisted rank a soldier can achieve. In order to achieve that rank he was promoted nine times. In order for an officer to be promoted nine times he/she would have to achieve the rank of lieutenant general. How many people get promoted nine times in their job? Ben "Buster" was a silent warrior and his career as a soldier epitomized those special and unique abilities required for success as a Special Forces professional.
I only met Ben twice (both times in Whitesburg). He was older and did not move as fast as he once did, but his eyes were intense and focused. He was a soldier that served four tours in Vietnam and one in Korea. Five years away from his beloved eastern Kentucky in a 22-year career.
I have served in four wars (Operation Just Cause, Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom) and I know what a soldier looks and acts like. I have led men into combat and seen what men must do in war. I was humbled to be in his presence. Only time and cancer could do what no man was able to do to this silent warrior - defeat his body.
Our nation is lesser because of his loss. I only hope there is some young man or woman in the hills of eastern Kentucky that will pick up the torch of freedom that Ben "Buster" so courageously carried.
My greatest fear is when my day of reckoning comes and I meet my maker, I see CSM Ben "Buster" Taylor guarding the pearly gates. Before I can get to see God and stand before the book of life, I must pass through Ben "Buster". I only hope my life as a soldier and a man can stand up to the scrutiny of a Special Forces soldier that lived, loved and served our nation as honorably and courageously as he did.
Ben "Buster", until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.
G.D. GUTHRIE Lieutenant Colonel U.S.