Brigadier General Kenneth Marlar Taylor was born 23 December 1919 in Enid, Oklahoma, and raised in Hominy, Oklahoma. He attended the University of Oklahoma as a pre-law student and enlisted in the Oklahoma National Guard in 1936. In 1941 he completed flight school at Brooks Field in San Antonio, was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps, and assigned to the 47th Pursuit Squadron at Wheeler Army Airfield, Honolulu.
His squadron was training at Haleiwa Field for gunnery practice. Before 0800 on the morning of 7 December 1941, as the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Lieutenants Taylor and Welch, friends and colleagues, both clothed in their tuxedo trousers from the night before, raced from Wheeler Field to their P-40 fighters at Haleiwa, Taylor having called ahead to have their planes fueled and armed. Flying in the direction of Wheeler Field at 10,000 feet, a line of enemy dive bombers was spotted over the Marine base at Ewa. The pilots dove toward the enemy at 345 MPH with guns blazing and sent two enemy planes trailing smoke to the ground. Moments later, from 13,000 feet, the second attack sent two more planes to the ground. Refueling at Wheeler Field and courageously continuing their attack, Taylor was wounded and credited with two probable kills. On 13 December 1941, the first awards for heroism in World War II were announced and Taylor and Welch received the Distinguished Service Cross.
Taylor returned to combat, shooting down one additional plane over Guadalcanal. He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, and Purple Heart. Taylor continued his career in the US Air Force and retired with 27 years as a Colonel in 1967. He became the Assistant Adjutant General for the Alaska Air National Guard, retiring as a Brigadier General in 1971. He continued his civilian career in the insurance industry retiring in 1985. Taylor died on 25 November 2006 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.