4th Annual Stater Bros. Charities Hero’s Challenge

During the Toshiba Classic last week, Dave Stockton invited me to participate in his 4th Annual Stater Bros. Charities Hero’s Challenge at the prestigious Victoria Club in Riverside, California. As many of you may recall, Dave invited me be part of the 1991 Ryder Cup, which turned out to be one of the highlights of my whole career. Well, what Dave is very good at is bringing people together, promoting an event, but also raising substantial amounts of money for local charities. So the Stater Brother’s event was no exception, Tammy, Dave’s daughter in law, married to his son Ron, was the tournament director, in which she ran a very coordinated, professional event. The part that hit me the most were the six Medal Of Honor Recipients who were so humble, kind, and gracious, who participated in all the dinners and tournament without a complaint.

Jim Taylor received his Medal Of Honor for valor and courage on the battlefields of Vietnam, while also receiving the Purple Heart, being shot many times saving many soldiers. Jim really impressed me by showing me his Medal, giving me a replica of his personal Medal, but most importantly, he showed me his St. Joseph’s Prayer. Being Catholic I know that the St. Joseph prayer was found in the fiftieth year of Christ, and in 1505 it was sent from the Pope to Emperor Charles when he was going into battle, with the decree that “Whoever shall read this prayer or hear I or keep it about themselves, shall never die a sudden death or be drowned, nor shall poison take effect on them; neither shall they fall into the hands of the enemy, or shall be burned in any fire or shall be overpowered in battle.” Mr. Taylor in his conviction of how this prayer saved him truly had a great effect on me. I’m so happy any time I meet an outstanding individual, however, his strength of character really came through with transformative power.

Here is a little synopsis of his valor. While in Vietnam a Calvary assault vehicle was hit by recoilless rifle fire, all five crew members were wounded. Aware the stricken vehicle was in grave danger of exploding, Jim Taylor personally extracted the wounded to safety despite the hail of enemy fire and exploding ammunition. Moments later it happened again, he rescued the men from another vehicle this time the vehicle did explode right after the men were taken to safety. A bursting mortar wounded Jim; still he took the men to the medical evacuation-loading zone, which happened to be closer to the front lines. When he arrived at the evacuation zone another vehicle was struck, once again he pulled the wounded from the vehicle.

Jim Taylor’s actions of unsurpassed valor were a source of inspiration to his whole troop. Contributed to the overall success of the assault of the enemy, but most importantly, he was directly responsible for saving many of his fellow soldier’s lives. When Abraham Lincoln started this Congressional Medal Of Honor during the Civil War, Jim Taylor’s actions are in keeping with the highest tradition of the military profession and reflect a great credit upon him and the US Army.

I’m so proud to have been able to meet Jim and his wife, along with the other five recipients, because they are truly great Americans with so much to still contribute to our country today.

I looked up Jim’s accomplishments for those of you who grew up around the Military, like I did at Ft. Bragg, or for those who might have an interest. Bronze Star, Air Medal, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, 3rd Award, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and a Vietnam Campaign Medal awarded by Vietnam. Jim graduated from Tampa University with a BS in Criminology, went Officers Candidate School, Ft. Benning, GA. Jim has many other very interesting stories to tell, so invite him to your event and I’m sure you’ll not be disappointed.

Also in attendance were: John F. Baker, H.C. “Barney” Barnum Jr., Robert J. Modrzejewski, and Ronald E. Ray. Google these men to be inspired, I know I sure was. Thanks Dave for including me in such a wonderful day of golf and festivities for many of these great American’s charities.