Robert Taylor, Veteran

The article below and the poem following it are reproduced here with the gracious permission of Major Van E. Harl, USAF Ret.  Major Harl, who shares a Revolutionary War ancestor with Robert Taylor, is the author and copyright holder of both.

ROBERT TAYLOR (Spangler Arlington Brugh)

Lt. Robert Taylor, USNR

Robert Taylor was born Spangler Arlington Brugh, in Filley, Nebraska on 5 August 1911. He was from a long line of family members who had served in the military. Both his Revolutionary War grandfathers, George M. Spangler and Daniel Brugh fought in that war. Members of his Brugh family have served in every war since the Revolution, to include both sides of the civil war. Taylor’s father was a doctor and Taylor started out in college preparing to go to medical school, but switched to performing arts. He had a long and successful acting career. In 1940 while making the movie “Flight Command” about a naval pilot, he learned to fly for real, much to the chagrin of his first wife Ruby Stevens (also know as the actress Barbara Stanwyck), who hated to fly.

When the US entered WW II Taylor joined the Navy and became a pilot and a flight instructor. He used his acting and directing skills to make 17 naval training films. It has been noted that after WW II and his service in the military, Taylor’s acting roles took on a more serious side. It has been suggested the maturing factors of military life and the complex challenges of wartime service had a profound impact on Taylor. He was known to help fellow veteran’s working in Hollywood. Many of his roles in motion pictures after the war took on the personification of the “strong leader”, both in military films as well as Westerns and crime dramas in movies and on TV. He was married a second time to the German actress Ursula Theiss. They had two children; a son, Terrence Brugh (1955) and a daughter, Theresa Brugh (1959).

Taylor died of lung cancer two months prior to his 58th birthday, on 8 June 1969. He is interred at Forest Lawn cemetery, Glendale California in the Garden of Honor. “We buried another veteran today – it seems, all my life it has happened this way”

©Copyright January 14, 2004 by Van E. Harl

Lt. Taylor served as a flight instructor and training film producer from 1943-1945.


We buried another veteran today.
He went to his God, from us, he went away.
This one was young, in the prime of his life.
He left twin children and a very courageous wife.

It wasn’t a bullet, a plane crash or a bomb.
It was cancer, and he just finally, could not hold on.
He fought “it” like a military campaign.
But the time came to surrender, to end his earthly pain.

He knew he would be fine in the presence of his Lord.
But what about his twins, those children he adored?
Will they grow strong and at “life” win.
Please God, let them always remember him.

We buried another veteran today.
It seems, all my life, it has happened this way.
From my uncles of the WW II-time frame.
To the military friends, Vietnam would claim.

For me the number of dead, is always on the rise.
When I get a call another veteran is gone, it is never really a surprise.
From lost sub-mariners, in early days of my life.
To the forever gone, military-medical friends of my veteran wife.

I lost a Korean War veteran friend this year, to a crashed airplane.
I lost a Gulf War friend to cancer, a difference in their age, but still that pain.
I lost an Uncle to cancer who did Korea with the Navy, steaming off shores.
I lost my father-in-law who fought in Korea, from a “fox-hole” in the frozen outdoors.

We buried another Veteran today.
It seems in all my family’s generations, it happens this way.
From my Revolutionary War Grandfathers who started this sad, but needed trend.
To the family members on both sides in 1861, who just would not bend.

Some of my family lived a long and happy life, after “their” war.
They died of old age in their bed, safe-behind a locked door.
They died in battle, buried where they fell.
They died years later, carrying emotional scars, in their own personal hell.

My family is no different than thousands who met our Nation’s call.
They rose to the demands of this country and some gave their “all”.
We have to continue doing this, to make America free.
But, it’s that Veteran’s twin-little children that keeps worrying me.

We buried another Veteran today.
It seems all my life it continues this way.
Now my only child is nine and we reside on a military installation.
My wife and I truly want her to live safe, in a free nation.

But what happens, when it is her-generation’s turn to make a stand.
Do we lose our only child in some forsaken-foreign land?
Does she play it safe, stay home and say “that’s boy’s stuff”.
Or does she join like her mother and go right into the ruff.

She has to be that one Veteran I don’t see, make that final “call”.
Let me go before her, let me first give this country my fighting “all”.
Maybe if I go “out-there” and make my final stand.
She can stay safe-at-home, in this wonderful free land.

We buried another Veteran today.

Major Van Harl, USAF Ret.
Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, 28 November 2001

About giraffe44

I became a Robert Taylor fan at the age of 15 when his TV show, "The Detectives" premiered. My mother wanted to watch it because she remembered Mr. Taylor from the thirties. I took one look and that was it. I spent the rest of my high school career watching Robert Taylor movies on late night TV, buying photos of him, making scrapbooks and being a typical teenager. College, marriage and career intervened. I remember being sad when Mr. Taylor died. I mailed two huge scrapbooks to Ursula Thiess. I hope she got them. Time passed, retirement, moving to Florida. Then in 2012 my husband Fred pointed that there were two Robert Taylor movies that evening on Turner Classic Movies--"Ivanhoe" and "Quentin Durward." I watched both and it happened all over again. I started this blog both for fans and for people who didn't know about Robert Taylor. As the blog passes 200,000 views I'm delighted that so many people have come by and hope it will help preserve the legacy of this fine actor and equally good man.
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5 Responses to Robert Taylor, Veteran

  1. This was a very gripping, touching poem. It moved me very deeply- just those opening lines.

    We will not forget this man, nor the impact he had on the movie industry, nor what he did for his country. God bless his kin.


  2. Reblogged this on fanwritings and commented:
    This was a very gripping, touching poem. It moved me very deeply- just those opening lines.

    We will not forget this man, nor the impact he had on the movie industry, nor what he did for his country. God bless his kin.


  3. giraffe44 says:

    I love the poem, too. It was nice of Maj. Von Harl to let me use it.


  4. Mac says:

    A Patroit, father, husband, artist. A Poet Aviator. The finest examples of Manhood, yet with a depth of intellect and wisdom uncommon in one individual. He goes to his Patroit fathers where he will be warmly received.
    And we who remain dare not forget him lest we forget how to be a Man in the best of terms.


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