Harry Taylor - US Army - Viera (Melbourne), FL
Education and Training Accomplishments:
Active Duty Military:
- Basic Combat & Intelligence Specialist Training (1962);
- Officer Candidate School (1965);
- Airborne School (1965);
- Ranger Course (1966);
- Jungle Warfare School (1966);
- Infantry Officer Career Course (1971);
- Nuclear & Electronic Warfare Course (1971);
- Expert Infantry Badge Competition (1974)
- Command & General Staff College (1977);
- Critical Events Control Course (1982);
- Air War College Correspondence Course 1983);
- Attache Course (1990).
- Certified Lifeguard (1957);
- Diploma, Central High School, Omaha, NE (1959);
- Bachelor of General Studies Degree, University of Nebraska, Omaha, NE (1972);
- Civil Aviation Private Pilot License (1972);
- Master of Business & Public Management Degree, Central Michigan University (1977);
- Licensed Flight Instructor for Gliders, UK Royal Air Force Glider Instructor School (1980) & Belgium Glider Instructor at SHAPE Glider Club, NATO (1980);
- Scuba Instructor (1991);
- First Aid Instructor (1991-present);
- Florida Master Naturalist Program Instructor (2000).
Professional or Employment History:
Active Duty Military:
- Retired from US Army after 31 years on active duty: three years as an Enlisted Intelligence Specialist and 28 as an Infantry Officer. Duties included:
- Instructor, Airborne School (1965-66);
- Authored the first Jumpmaster’s Handbook, which was subsequently converted to an Army Technical Manual. (1965);
- Captain of the Ft. Benning Free Fall Parachute Team (1966);
- Combat Company Platoon Leader, Executive Officer, and Commander in Vietnam (1966-67);
- Commander, Basic Combat Training Company, Ft. Gordon, GA (1968);
- Company Commander, Vietnam (1969-70);
- Commander, 3rd ID HQ & HQ Co, West Germany (1973-74);
- G-2 Operations Officer and G-3 Air, SHAPE (Belgium) (1977-1987);
- Operations Div. Command & Control Spec, and Chief, Analysis & Evaluation, Deputy US Rep. to NATO/SHAPE;
- The Pentagon SHAPE Liaison Officer to JCS & Services;
- XO to Gen. Bernard W. Rodgers;
- Chief, Attache Coordination (Office of DCS, Intel) for 303 accredited foreign military officers representing 82 countries (1987-1991);
- Defense Attache, US Embassy, Belize (1991-1993) instrumental in capture of illegal drugs values at $44 million.
- Operations Officer for Belize Youth Conservation Corps (1993-1995);
- Directed United Nations Environmental Program in Belize to conduct census of Prunus’s Atlantic and Argus Lobsters (1993-1995);
- Adjunct Professorships at Florida Atlantic University, University of Miami, Florida International University and NOVA Southeastern University (1998-2009);
- Master Naturalist Instructor, University of South Florida (2002-2008);
- Taught in-house training courses (Business, Logistics, Supply Management, Purchasing and Contracting,) for Florida Power and Light Corp., Office Depot Corp., Ryder Corp., Boston Scientific Inc., Renard Manufacturing Inc., Ansa- McCall Corp.(US), Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian Cruise Lines (1997-2009).
Advocacy on Behalf of Veterans (All as an Unpaid Volunteer)
- Director of VA Benefits and Issues, and Mentor at Brevard County Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) 2014 to present. VTC provides treatment, counseling and mentoring for veterans facing non-violent criminal charges, with the aim of rehabilitation rather than incarceration. The program gained federal support when The Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act of 2019 (introduced by Rep. Charlie Crist) was signed into law in August 2020.
- State of Florida Veterans Service Officer, Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Chapter #123, 2013 to present. Skip is an expert at negotiating Title Code 38 Code of Federal Regulations. He writes claims and identifies the ways veterans can receive needed support from the Veterans Administration (VA).
- Active Member, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Cape Canaveral Chapter (MOAACC), 2010 to present. The Chapter is an affiliate of MOAA. It strives to promote MOAA’s aims, promote strong national defense, and protect the earned benefits of the military thru legislative advocacy, philanthropy, and camaraderie.
- Active Member, Good Deeds Foundation, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Cape Canaveral Chapter (MOAACC), 2016 to present. This is non-profit, 501 (3) C, organization that provides monetary support to numerous Brevard County Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC), ROTC, active duty military and veterans programs.
- Chairman (2015-2019) & Board Member (2006-2015), Indian River Colony Club (IRCC) Foundation. Indian River Colony Club is a Viera, FL 55-plus retirement community, 80 percent of whose membership is made up of veterans of the US Uniformed Services. Its non-profit foundation provides grants for educational, medical and/or emergency needs to local residents, veterans and veterans’ support organizations.
- Active/Effective Supporter of the Veterans Memorial Center and Museum, Merritt Island, from 2014 to present The Veterans Memorial Center (VMC) represents and serves all 70,000veterans in Brevard County. Veterans make up 1l+% of the County’s population, which ranks as the 2nd highest in the Nation. VMC has 500 members and averages over 100,000 visitors per year. At least 10% of those are veterans seeking support or information.
- Team Member, Missing in America Project, 2015 to present. This project which seeks out the unclaimed remains of veterans, or their spouses, in order to provide them a proper burial (with military honors, as appropriate) in the Cape Canaveral National Cemetery.
- President (+ other Leadership Positions), Military Society of the Blue Badge, 2009 to present This a Brevard County-wide group, whose members are all holders of the Army Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB)—some with 3 awards (WWII, Korea & Vietnam). Its organized field trips and monthly luncheon meetings-which feature guest speakers-are designed to promote camaraderie and provide members, spouses and guests with information related to military history and current events.
- Life Member and Supporter of: The American Legion, Brevard Veterans Council, DAV, MOAA, Military Order of the Purple Heart, National Infantry Association, National Rifle Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans Association, and Vietnam and All Veterans of Brevard County.
Civic Activities and Contributions
- Rotary International Clubs:
- Belize (formerly British Honduras): Secretary, also responsible for External Security, (1991-1995).
- Miami, FL: President (2003-2004).
- Assistant District Governor (2005-2007).
- Viera, FL: Founding Member (2012).
- Board Member, Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), of Miami (1997-2007). —
- Serving in Feeding the Hungry Programs in South and Central Florida (1996-2006). -Leadership Team, St Andrew’s Church (Miami) (1998-2005).
- Lay Reader and Server, Prince of Peace Church (Viera )2008 to present.
Awards and Honors:
Active Duty Military Awards:
- Silver Star;
- Legion of Merit;
- Bronze Star Medal (5, 3 with “V”);
- Purple Heart (2);
- Meritorious Service Medal (2);
- Air Medal;
- Army Commendation Medal;
- Good Conduct Medal;
- National Defense Service Medal (2);
- Vietnam Service Medal;
- NCO Professional Development Ribbon;
- Vietnamese Gallantry Cross w/Gold Star;
- Vietnamese Gallantry Cross w/ Bronze Star;
- Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal;
- Army Valorous Unit Award;
- Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation;
- Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation;
- Combat Infantryman Badge;
- Expert Infantryman Badge;
- Parachutist Badge;
- Ranger Tab;
- and the Polish Gold Medal (1989).
- Presented Airborne wings by 11 different countries.
Note: DD Form 214, Section 13 (Awards) is incomplete. Additional awards listed above have been verified separately.
- Named North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Family of the Year (1986).
- Named Department of Defense Schools (DODDS) Educational Supporter of the Year (1986).
- Named to Central High School Hall of Fame, Class of 1959 by Central High School Foundation, Omaha, NE (2015).
- Named Victor B. Freeman Memorial Americanism Award winner by the Florida Department, Disabled American Veterans (2019).
- Awarded Order of Saint Maurice by the National Infantry Association (2021). Nominated by MOAACC for MOAA’s Eagle Rare Life Award. This monetary award (up to $50,000) is given by the Eagle Rare Bourbon Company to the charity of choice of selected individuals whose lives have been and continue to be filled with leadership, heroism, courage, and inspiration (2020).
- Nominated for a second Victor B. Freeman Memorial Americanism Award, for current year by DAV Chapter #123 (2020).
“SERVICE” should have been “Skip” Taylor’s middle name and nickname! It becomes very obvious—when you learn about all that he has done or see him in action—that he has devoted a lifetime to SERVICE.
Despite life-threatening childhood asthma. Skip started serving early, as an 11-year-old newspaper carrier with a 112-customer route. He was also a 16-year-old “Bell Ringer” for the Salvation Army. He has again served as a “Bell Ringer” for 2015 to the present.
Skip served with distinction for 31 years in the US Army. He was an Instructor at the US Army Airborne School, Ft. Benning, GA., wrote the first Jumpmaster’s Handbook (now an Army Technical Manual), and served as Captain of the Ft. Benning Tactical Freefall Team. He has completed a total of 205 jumps, and been awarded Airborne Wings by 11 countries. Skip served two tours of duty in Vietnam, which included two company commands in combat. While in Vietnam he received a silver star, two purple hearts and five bronze stars (three with “V” device). Skip also commanded a Basic Combat Training company at Ft. Gordon, GA and the 3rd Infantry Division’s HQ & HQ Company (480 soldiers) in West Germany. He served in operations, analysis and evaluation at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers, Europe (SHAPE); as Deputy US Representative to NATO/SHAPE; as SHAPE Liaison Officer to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Services at the Pentagon; and was Chief of Attache Coordination during the fall of the Berlin Wall and the beginning of Operation Desert Storm. Skip’s final active-duty assignment was as Defense Attache at the US Embassy in Belize. He received a Legion of Merit for his service in Belize, which included significant actions that resulted in the capture of an estimated $44 million worth of illegal drugs. Skip “retired” to Florida in 1995. But he actually retired in NO sense of the word! Since his arrival in the Sunshine State, Skip has been tireless in his efforts to help brighten the lives of those around him, and even of those he has never met.
In South Florida (1995-2008):
Making use of his extensive background and experience, Skip served in several Rotary Club leadership positions. He performed as a Master Naturalist Instructor, focusing on helping others to increase their knowledge and appreciation for Biscayne Bay. He completed a special project at the Dade County Charles Deering Estate, repairing and painting Deering’s “Chinese Bridge” to its original 1906 color/condition. He also led a four week “Rotary Group Study Exchange” trip to Scotland with five young US professionals, for five young Scottish executives who shared the same professions. He served as an Adjunct Professor at several universities and performed in-house training for several corporations.
Acutely aware of the needs of the hungry and homeless, Skip participated in a monthly breakfast program near the Miami VA Hospital, which ultimately resulted in serving over 2000. He also served in a monthly church program at the Miami Dade County Family Homeless and Rehabilitation Center in Homestead, that fed over 125 a night.
In Central Florida (2008 to present):
Skip has continued to serve the needy through a monthly church program at the Daily Bread Kitchen in Melbourne. Daily Bread provides lunch, on average, to 200 individuals each day.
Drawing on his military training and experience, since early 2014 Skip has actively supported the work of three consecutive Brevard County Court Judges in the VTC Program, working to rehabilitate veterans convicted of non-violent crimes. With a combination of empathy and “tough love,” he has mentored over 200 participating veterans. Currently Skip is mentoring 16 of the 71 defendants who are now in the VTC program. Each participating veteran usually spends about six months to a year leading up to a “graduation” certificate. But they can still maintain contact for additional support. However, one of Skip’s mentees was in the program for two and one-half years due to various illnesses and hospitalizations. He finally graduated, and is still doing well! In 2019, Skip hosted a 2-day Florida-wide VTC Mentor Boot Camp, which had 78 VTC Mentor attendees from Florida and Georgia.
Drawing on his knowledge of and experience with the VA, Skip has also counseled many other men and women veterans in jail, explaining to them the resources available related to disability assistance claims, loans, educational assistance and general discharge upgrades. He has done all this both face-to-face and—for over a year—via CO VID 19-imposed Virtual Media.
Skip’s mentoring and counseling is not limited to phone calls and jail visits. An incident this past week (May 2021) best illustrates—in Skip’s own words—all that he does, “I had one of my lost sheep finally get out of jail on probation and prepared him to drive to (another state). He was released from County Jail at 3:15 am yesterday morning and I drove up to get him and bring him home. Then spent the day rounding up all the details and thinking he would get on the road around 1pm. Not so, his minivan broke down at the “7-11” and had to be towed back to the storage lot and I had to find him a cheap motel room. He finally got the minivan fixed and was on the road today at 1pm. Thus ended a 92-day saga of calls, jail visits, hiring a lawyer to get him out of jail and on parole to remain in (that state) until his next event in court here.” Skip said that that adventure all began with a simple request to him, “Skip, could you help a vet secure his van?” as he was being taken to jail.
As a Florida State DAV Department Service Officer, previously Coordinator and now the Director of VA Benefits and Issues and DAV Chapter #123’s Service Officer (DSO), Skip has served over 2000 veterans (living locally, in other states and a few outside the US). He has averaged 20 hours a week assisting veterans of all Services with the submission of claims, and providing expert guidance thru Title Code 38 Code of Federal Regulations, to identify the various areas in which they might receive Veterans Administration (VA) provided support. Skip is also often contacted related to his Survivors Assistance expertise.
Skip has been very active in two non-profit foundations:
1) Member of MOAACC’s Good Deeds Foundation since its founding five years ago. Skip has been involved with direct support and grants to numerous area veterans (primarily from the enlisted ranks) and their families; military oriented programs in local high schools and colleges; local active duty enlisted personnel; and veterans support organizations such as Honor Flight, VTC, Wreaths Across America at Cape Canaveral National Cemetery and the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center and Museum on Merritt Island. Based on his personal participation in high school Army JROTC and college Air Force ROTC, Skip$een able to greatly enhance MOAACC’s efforts to identify and serve the needs of over 20 Florida JROTC/ROTC school programs, as well as Sea Cadets, Civil Air Patrol, and Young Marines. In 2019—the last “normal” year—Good Deeds Foundation grants totaled $50,000.
2) Chairman or Board Member oftheIRCC Foundation for over 12 years. Under Skip’s leadership, the foundation has granted an estimated $100,000 to veterans in need—primarily through such veterans’ support organizations as PAWS for Veterans (which provides service dogs); the Veterans and Family Assistance Program; the Merritt Island Veterans Memorial Center; and Brevard Standdown (support for homeless veterans). Skip personally arranged for foundation-provided bus passes for veterans under his mentorship in the VTC Program.
As a Missing in America Project (MIAP) Team Member, Skip has participated in the review of hundreds records at Brevard County funeral homes, which have resulted in the identification of over 50 unclaimed, cremated remains for burial in the Cape Canaveral National Cemetery. In addition. Skip has actually carried the urn of or a burial flag for an abandoned veteran during all four MIAP Ceremonies held at the cemetery 2016-2019.
THE BOTTON LINE: Look at the mottos of the groups with which Skip has chosen to spend
his life: “Soldier for Life”…“Service Above Self”…“To care for [veterans/families]”… “Empower.. .to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity.” … “To serve our veterans”… “Never Stop Serving”. Under normal circumstances, the accomplishments of this 81-year-old, 26-year Florida resident would be considered remarkable. But two more things need to be considered: 1) For several years Skip has been dealing with very serious health issues, and 2) His efforts became much more difficult due to the serious obstacles imposed by the 2020-2021 COVID-19 pandemic. Skip Taylor’s accomplishments are truly exceptional contributions to the State of Florida, and definitely merit selection to the Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame!