The Unknown Sailor - Telling Life Stories

The unknown sailor is now part of his family’s story.

It’s 2018 and your life story is overdue.  Make it happen today.

Joe Ann Taylor cried uncontrollably and emotionally as she heard her father’s voice for the first time in the 19 years since he passed – he was telling a life story she had never heard. Joe Ann was listening to an audio tape of her father, Joe George Taylor, disclosing a story he knew he had to tell or the story and history will die with him.  

Joe George made his oral history recording at the University of North Texas before his death. It is the only record of the full story of that day. His daughter called it a gift from God[i].  

[i] The Original story of Joe George Tailor and his family was written by David Martin as the Cover Story for CBS Sunday Morning.

The story

Seventy-six years ago, on Sunday, the 7th December 1941, Pearl Harbour was attacked by Japanese fighters.  The forward ammunition magazine on the USS Arizona exploded and over one thousand marines and sailors died.

Donald Stratton and Lauren Bruner were two sailors that survived that day. Their story goes that they were aboard the USS Arizona when the explosion happened. They raced onto the ‘hot steel deck’ to join other men who were dying from burns and injuries. Stratton and Bruner were trapped in the raging inferno and about to be burned alive – they looked desperately for a way to save their lives - it was against the odds.   But, they were not prepared to die.

They saw the fire-free USS Vestal tied up alongside the Arizona. A sailor onboard the Vestal saw their desperate predicament and started throwing them a heaving line. The sailor defied the odds and showed enormous courage as he persisted with his attempts to secure the line between the Arizona and the Vestal.

Stratton and Brunner struggled the 70 feet of their salvation line with a hand-over-hand action to get to safety. They never knew the name of the sailor who saved their lives and their story was recorded in history books as having their lives saved by an unknown sailor.


USS Arizona sinking and burning on Pearl Harbour

The unknown sailor’s story

Joe George Taylor was a wild boy who frequently got himself in trouble. He was an amateur heavyweight boxer who celebrated his winnings with a drinking session and then an ‘unofficial’ fight.

MP’s had escorted him back to his ship, the Vestel the previous Saturday night and that’s where he was on that fateful Sunday morning.

I’m that unknown sailor that whoever wrote the book didn’t find, he recorded in his oral history session.

They were surrounded by fire on the Arizona. They were stranded over on the ship and they were trying to get off, he further stated.

The Family’s story

‘For me, personally, and my family. That’s the most wonderful thing…that he’s not the unknown sailor; he’s known as the man who did what he did’, Joe Ann said of her father.

History now recognizes that Joseph L. George received the Bronze Star for George Taylor's heroic actions on December 7, 1941. Read more of the Taylor family’s amazing story.

Your Story

Everyone has a story, and whilst you may not be a war hero and receive accolades from President Donald Trump, your story will be just as important to your family as Joe George’s story was to his family.

Every family has stories that go untold. It is part of life that during everyday hustle and bustle, important life stories get neglected. It takes a focused effort to materialize a final product that will stand the test of time.

Your life story and life messages will mean so much to your descendants.  It will help them understand the DNA of their personality and the influences that have shaped their pathway. Knowing their background and family connections, will strengthen their self-knowledge and self-esteem.

Telling your life story is also good for your health in so many ways. It will be empowering and give you great satisfaction to work through your life.   

Take the first step in recording your life story in 2018.

Read more about life stories on my blogs and how you can make a difference to future generations. 

If you know of any stories that need to be told, please contact me. Life stories need to be told.

Author: Rose Osborne. Freelance Writer and Memoirist.


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