The Taylor Veterans Museum


Taylor Veterans Museum
"A place to honor those who have served"

City of Taylor Veterans Museum
Located inside Taylor City Hall
23555 Goddard Rd.
Taylor, MI 48180

Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Telephone: (734) 374-8775 (Please leave a message)
Admission is Free



FACTS ABOUT THE TAYLOR VETERANS MUSEUM

MEMBER OF FAMOUS MONTFORD POINT MARINES VISITS MUSEUM: A celebrated soldier from America’s past discovered a memorial devoted to others just like him when 92-year-old Calvin Shepherd of Inkster visited the Taylor Veterans Museum on December 30.

Former City of Taylor employee Georgine Dumas, a family friend of Shepherd’s, along with former City Councilman Butch Ramik, helped the World War II veteran of the Montford Point Marines connect with the City’s veterans museum. City Councilman Tim Woolley, the council’s liaison to the Taylor Veterans Museum Commission and a veteran himself, hosted Shepherd’s tour of the facility along with Mayor Rick Sollars and Commission President Jack Myers.

“It was really special to have him tour our museum,” Woolley said. “He really loved it. He told me that he felt like a rock star.”

Shepherd was a member of the nation’s first African-American Marines – the Montford Point Marines. They received their name from the segregated, mosquito-ridden camp in North Carolina that they trained in during the WWII era. Shepherd, along with other survivors of his division, were honored with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award handed down by the U.S. government.

More than 19,000 men trained at Montford Point in the 1940s, but only 420 survive today. Many, like Shepherd, live in the Detroit area. Previous to the Congressional Gold Medal being bestowed upon the group, Congress awarded the same medal to the famous Tuskegee Airmen – African-American pilots who fought in WWII. That action seemed to open the door for other deserving veterans like the Montford Point Marines.

The medal itself reads “Montford Point Marines 1942-49” on one side and “For Outstanding Perseverance and Courage that Inspired Social Change in the Marine Corps” on the back. Recognition of the Montford Point Marines certainly helped ease the bigotry inflicted upon African-American members of the military decades ago. However, those feelings weren’t evident during Shepherd’s visit to Taylor.

“That was one thing that really stood out with him,” Mayor Sollars said. “He was just proud of have served his country. There wasn’t any pent up anger, despite what they had to endure back then. Those men had a job to do during a very difficult period in our country’s history, and they stepped up and did it. It was an honor to have him visit our museum.”

According to Blackpast.org, initially the Montford recruits were trained by white officers and non-commissioned officers, but citing a desire to have blacks train blacks, the Marines quickly singled out several exceptional black recruits to serve as NCO drill instructors.  

In January 1943, Edgar R. Huff became the first black NCO as a private first class. In February Gilbert "Hashmark" Johnson, a 19-year veteran of the Army and Navy, became the first Drill Sergeant.  By May 1943 all training at Montford Point was done by black sergeants and drill instructors, with Johnson as Chief DI.  Both Johnson and Huff would be renowned throughout the entire Marine Corps for their demanding training and exceptional leadership abilities.

The men soon distinguished themselves as the finest artillery gunners in the Marine Corps, breaking almost every accuracy record in training. Unfortunately, discrimination towards African American fighting abilities still existed and when shipped to the Pacific, they were posted to outlying islands away from the primary action. The only Montford Marines to see action, and record casualties, were the Ammunition and Depot Companies in Saipan, Guam, and Peleliu.  Private Kenneth Tibbs was the first black Marine to lose his life on June 15, 1944.

The Montford Point Marine training facility was abolished in 1949 after President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 9981 which desegregated the U.S. Armed Forces.

The Taylor Veterans Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Admission is free. For more information, call (734) 374-8775 and leave a message. The museum features beautiful display cabinets that currently house 11 veterans’ personal collections -- which are on loan or have been donated to the museum -- including a Medal of Honor Recipient.  In the atrium of City Hall, a display case houses memorabilia honoring U.S. Rep. John D. Dingell, 2nd Lt. U.S. Army. Former Congressman Dingell is currently the longest-serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives. 

If you or someone you know would like to showcase a service member's memorabilia in the museum, or serve as a volunteer host, please call (734) 374-8775 or fax your request to (734) 946-4636. 

ARMED FORCES REMEMBRANCE DAY 2015: The City’s annual Armed Forces Remembrance Day Ceremony, presented by the Taylor Veterans Museum Committee, and was held Saturday, May 9. The ceremony took place inside City Hall due to inclement weather. 

Special commemorative medals were be given to military veterans of the Desert Shield-Desert Storm (1990-91) era, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the conflict. The event also celebrated the 150th anniversaries of the end of the Civil War (April 9) and President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination (April 14). 

Between 150 and 200 people attended, including the Taylor Community Chorus, Kennedy and Truman JROTC programs, Taylor Police Department Chaplain David Edwards, National Anthem singer Michelle Pfeifer, City Council, Clerk Cindy Bower and Treasurer Edward Bourassa, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, State Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood and State Rep. Erika Geiss. 

Some of the special moments included the performance of bag piper Tim McHugh and the keynote speeches given by City Councilman Tim Woolley (a veteran of the Desert Storm-Desert Shield era) and Mayor Rick Sollars.

REMEMBERING HOLLY: A few tears fell as those in attendance remembered the late Holly McGeogh, who was killed in Iraq in 2004. McGeogh, 19, died on January 31, 2004, when her vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive devise near Kirkuk, Iraq. She was part of Company A, Fourth Forward Support Battalion, Fourth Infantry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas.

A memorial to McGeogh, placed in the front of City Hall along Goddard Road, was moved before the event. It had been too easily vandalized by passers-by. It was placed deeper into the complex, near other monuments in the Cameron Priebe Plaza. The campaign captured the hearts of many residents and business leaders, and the money to make the move was quickly reached -- thanks in part to one anonymous donor of a significant sum of money. Fiore Enterprises and the Sakalian Family played a key role in the construction move.

Tons of dignitaries were in attendance, but none made a more lasting impression than McGeogh’s mother, Paula Love, and one of the former members of her squad, Chris Eagling. Love feared that Taylor would forget Holly. But that isn’t going to happen.

 “I’m happy she got to fulfill one of her goals, and that was to be a soldier,” Love told the crowd. “In every picture I’ve ever seen, she’s laughing, she’s smiling. That was Holly.”

Eagling, one of McGeogh’s commanders in Iraq, lives in Negaunee in the Upper Peninsula, and traveled with his young son to Taylor for the ceremony. “I am still, to this day, so very sorry that we couldn’t bring her home,” he told McGeogh’s mother.

VISITING THE ANN ARBOR VA: City Councilman Tim Woolley visited the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System as part of the National Salute to Veteran Patients Program Week.

Woolley, a U.S. Army veteran of the Desert Storm-Desert Shield era, represented the City of Taylor by touring the facility on Wednesday, February 17. He toured the facility with Beverly Conatser, chief of voluntary and chaplain services. He had a change to visit several of the key areas in the hospital and visit with some of the veterans who are currently staying there.

“It was an honor to visit the facility and interact with the veterans,” said Woolley, who also serves as the council representative on the Taylor Veterans Museum Commission.

According to the VA, the purpose of the National Salute to Veteran Patients Program is to:

  • Pay tribute and express appreciation to Veterans;
  • Increase community awareness of the role of the VA medical center;
  • Encourage citizens to visit hospitalized Veterans and to become involved as volunteers.

The week of February 14 each year is an opportunity to say “thank you” to a special group of men and women. More than 98,000 Veterans of the U.S. armed services are cared for every day in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers.

During the National Salute, the VA invites individuals, Veterans groups, military personnel, civic organizations, businesses, schools, local media, celebrities and sports stars to participate in a variety of activities at the VA medical centers. The activities and events include special ward visits and valentine distributions; photo opportunities; school essay contests; special recreation activities and Veteran recognition programs.

The week also provides an opportunity for the community to become acquainted with the volunteer opportunities within the medical center.

Also during National Salute week, selected cities host concerts that are free to Veterans and their families. The concert schedule is usually available around the first of January.

Since 1953, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System (VAAAHS) has provided state-of-the-art healthcare services to the men and women who have so proudly served the nation. More than 65,000 Veterans living in a 15-county area of Michigan and Northwest Ohio utilized the VAAAHS in fiscal year 2015.

The main hospital campus located in Ann Arbor serves as a referral center for specialty care and operates 109 acute care beds and 40 Community Living Center (extended care) beds. More than 800,000 outpatient visits were made at our facilities in fiscal year 2015; there were more than 5,000 inpatient episodes of care provided in the hospital and extended care center.

BACKGROUND ON THE MUSEUM

MUSEUM COMMISSIONERS: Chairman Jack Myers, Vice Chairman Wayne "Boomer" Buck, Commissioner Stephanie Krueger, Treasurer Ray Dreher, Commissioner Frank Canning, , Commissioner Walter Howard, Commissioner Tim Woolley and Commissioner Evie Chateauvert.

EVERY YEAR the Veterans Museum Commissioners and volunteers place flats at the grave sites of Taylor military veterans. Flags are placed in all three of the city-owned cemeteries. The placing of the flags occurs prior to Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and again in November for Veterans Day.

HISTORY OF THE MUSEUM: The Taylor Veterans Museum and its Commission were instituted by the Taylor City Council on May 5, 2009, and officially opened on May 16, 2009. 

The museum features beautiful display cabinets that currently house 11 veterans personal collections -- which are on loan or have been donated to the museum -- including a Medal of Honor Recipient. 

In the atrium of City Hall, a display case houses memorabilia honoring U.S. Rep. John D. Dingell, 2nd Lt. U.S. Army. Former Congressman Dingell is currently the longest-serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Many other military-related items are on display in the museum throughout the year. Displays will change over time to honor new arrivals.

If you or someone you know would like to showcase a service member's memorabilia in the museum, or serve as a volunteer host, please call (734) 374-8775 or fax your request to (734) 946-4636. 

FRIENDS OF THE TAYLOR VETERANS MUSEUM WEBSITE

Take a little time out of your day to honor those who have served our great country and gave so much of themselves so that we all may have freedom.

The museum is funded entirely through donations. There are also a variety of items for sale inside the museum, such as baseball caps, T-shirts, sweatshirts and other items. If you wish to make a donation, please make your check payable to the Friends of the Taylor Veterans Museum and mail it to PO Box 564, Taylor, MI, 48180.

We are in the process of acquiring our non-profit status. There is a donation box located inside the museum for contributions. A receipt will be provided upon request. 

With the support of Mayor Rick Sollars and the City Council, we will continue to preserve and honor the memories of all the veterans that are on display and all who have served in our armed forces from Taylor, Michigan.

MEETING INFORMATION: City of Taylor Veterans Museum Commission meetings are at 5 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month. The Friends of the Veterans Museum Committee meeting are held at 6 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month. The meetings are held at City Hall. The Public is welcome to attend.

Thank you for your continued support!