T. D. Isom, Jr.
U. S. Navy
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 07/15/1941 - 08/15/1946
Aviation Metalsmith, San Diego NAS

Soon after Taylor was born in Mansfield, Louisiana, his father, who worked for Gulf Oil, moved the family to a new field in Smackover, Arkansas. The Isoms lived in Norphlet, Arkansas, where Taylor grew up as one of three children of Taylor Isom, a veteran of World War I, and Omilee Beard Isom. The youngster contributed to the family income with a newspaper route, making five dollars a month. He also worked in packaging asphalt from crude oil, earning forty cents an hour. The Isoms lived frugally. His mother washed clothes in black pots outside in the yard, canned vegetables grown in their garden, and cooked on a gas stove. They cured pork in a smokehouse, and kept foods cool in an icebox, with twenty-five or fifty-pound blocks of ice delivered to the house. The family attended the Baptist church on Sunday, although his father usually had to work seven days a week. Taylor graduated from Norphlet High School in 1941 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy on July 15, 1941. He completed boot camp in San Diego, and was attending aviation metalsmith school in Alameda when he caught the mumps. He was recuperating in a hospital when Pearl Harbor was bombed. "We were sitting there with the mumps. I always tell people the mumps saved my life," he recalls wryly. After finishing the school Taylor returned to San Diego to work in a metal shop. He and others also served as plane captains for Navy dive bombers, the Douglas SBD Dauntless. They warmed up aircraft engines and checked out instruments, then de-planed and guided pilots to take-off positions. His work, he recalls, was dangerous, with accidents often resulting in serious injury, even death. In 1943 he was sent to a new base in Daytona Beach, Florida. He flew from California on an SDB (dive bomber). Taylor was promoted to Aviation Metalsmith 1st Class. Meanwhile, he played on Navy baseball and football teams. He entered training to become an officer and was sent to Mercer University in Macon, Georgia for two semesters where he earned a bachelor's degree in naval science in February of 1946. Commissioned that month, Taylor served aboard the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42). He chose to leave the Navy, however, and was discharged in Memphis. Returning home, he coached football and basketball and taught classes at Norphlet High School. On May 16, 1947, he married Polly Dickey. (They would have two sons, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.) After five years at the high school he went to work for Gulf Oil in 1951 in sales. He retired in 1984 in Shreveport.