Kenneth Taylor was born on December 23, 1919, in Enid, Oklahoma, and grew up in Hominy, Oklahoma. He enlisted in the Oklahoma National Guard on September 14, 1936, and served until October 1, 1938, and again served from June 2 to September 6, 1939. Ken attended the University of Oklahoma during this time, and enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Corps on September 11, 1940. He was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings at Brooks Field, Texas, on April 25, 1941, and then served as a P-40 Warhawk pilot with the 47th Pursuit Squadron of the 15th Pursuit Group at Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii, from May 1941 to January 1942, during which time he was credited with the destruction of 2 enemy aircraft in aerial combat plus 2 probables during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Capt Taylor next served with the 44th Fighter Squadron in Hawaii from December 1941 to November 1942, and then deployed to Guadalcanal from November 1942 until he returned to the U.S. in June 1943. During this time he was credited with 1 enemy aircraft destroyed in the air and 1 more probable, for a total of 3 confirmed and 3 probables during World War II. After recovering from injuries received at Guadalcanal, Capt Taylor served as a P-47 Thunderbolt pilot with the 326th Fighter Group at Westover Field, Massachusetts, from July to October 1943, and then served as Commander of the 83rd Fighter Group, a P-47 training group, at Dover Army Airfield, Delaware, from October 1943 to April 1944. His next assignment was as Director of Operations and Training for the 131st Base Unit at Blackstone Army Airfield, Virginia, from April to June 1944, and then as Base Commander there from June to July 1944. Maj Taylor served as Deputy Base Commander for the 130th Base Unit at Norfolk Army Airfield, Virginia, from July 1944 to January 1945, and then attended Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, from January to March 1945. He returned to Norfolk Army Airfield as Director of Operations and Training from March to May 1945, and then served as Director of Operations and Training at Bluethenthal Field, North Carolina, from June to November 1945. His next assignment was as Assistant Director of Operations and Training at Selfridge Field, Michigan, from November 1945 to January 1946, followed by service as Commander of the 456th Fighter Squadron and Deputy Commander of the 414th Fighter Group in the Philippines from March to August 1946. Maj Taylor then served as Commander of the 12th Fighter Squadron of the 18th Fighter Group in the Philippines from August 1946 to February 1947, followed by service on the staff of 13th Air Force at Clark Field in the Philippines from February to September 1947. He retook command of the 12th Fighter Squadron from October 1947 to March 1948, and then served as a Special Weapons Test Group Commander at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, from April 1948 to December 1950. Col Taylor attended Royal Air Force Staff College in Berkshire, England, from December 1950 to December 1951, and then served as as a tactical evaluator with the Inspector General's office with Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe from January 1952 to August 1957. He attended Air War College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, from August 1957 to August 1958, and then served on the staff of Alaskan Air Command at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, from August 1958 to August 1961. Col Taylor next served on the staff of the 28th NORAD Region at Hamilton AFB, California, from August 1961 to July 1965, and then served on the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon from July 1965 until his retirement from the Air Force on June 1, 1967. He joined the Alaska Air National Guard in July 1967, and served as Assistant Adjutant General from July 1967 until retiring from military service on January 4, 1971. Kenneth Taylor died on November 25, 2006, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
His Distinguished Service Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism in action over the Island of Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, and waters adjacent thereto, December 7, 1941. When surprised by a heavy air attack by Japanese forces on Wheeler Field and vicinity at approximately 8 a.m., he left Wheeler Field and proceeded by automobile, under fire, to Haleiwa Landing Field, a distance of approximately ten miles, where the planes of his squadron were stationed. He immediately, on his own initiative, took off for the purpose of attacking the invading forces, without first obtaining information as to the number or type of planes in the attacking force, and proceeded to his initial point over Barbers Point. At the time of take off his plane was equipped with thirty caliber machine guns only. Upon arrival over Barbers Point, he observed a formation of approximately twelve planes over Ewa, about one thousand feet below and ten miles away. Accompanied by only one other pursuit ship he immediately attacked this enemy formation and shot down two enemy planes. No more enemy planes being in sight he proceeded to Wheeler Field to refuel and replenish ammunition. Just as reloading was completed but before ammunition boxes and been removed a second wave of enemy planes attacked Wheeler Field, approaching directly toward him at low altitude. Although Lieutenant Taylor had been advised that he should not go up again he made a quick take off ending in a chandelle, thereby saving his plane as he escaped from a superior force of eight to ten planes by climbing into the clouds. Lieutenant Taylor's initiative, presence of mind, coolness under fire against overwhelming odds in his first battle, expert maneuvering of his plane, and determined action contributed to a large extent toward driving off this sudden, unexpected enemy air attack.