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Local Army veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor honored for service at the age of 99

Local Army veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor honored for service at the age of 99
Posted at 12:10 AM, Jan 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-28 03:58:03-05

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. -- December 7, 1941, was the day Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japanese warplanes, and as President Franklin Roosevelt said, it would be a "day of infamy."

99-year-old Army veteran Cecil Thomas Taylor from Eure, N.C., saw the attack up close and personal when he was stationed at the Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.

“I run," Taylor said. "My head was asleep, but my feet weren’t. I run.”

The attack on Pearl Harbor would launch the United States into World War II. Schofield Barracks is close to Pearl Harbor, and Taylor was part of the 27th Infantry regiment, also known as the “Wolfhounds.”  Warplanes also attacked the barracks just one day before he was scheduled to go home.

A special ceremony was set up for Taylor on Monday at a local Masonic Lodge in Elizabeth City. Friends, family, veterans and Freemasons attended the special event. It recognized his service and legacy. One of the attendees was Staff Sgt. James Frey.

"For me, I really do feel have a personal connection to the story," Frey said. "Not Cecil specifically, but to the wolfhound a regiment, and I was very happy today.”

Frey and fellow soldiers are currently stationed at Schofield Barracks. They traveled from Hawaii to Elizabeth City to give Taylor a "challenge coin." The coin is given to service-members for special achievements for their service.

Related: Local Pearl Harbor veteran celebrates 100th birthday 

At the age of 99, Taylor still showed optimism and energy. He turned 99 in September.

“99 and four months - I’m feeling good," Taylor said. "I’m feeling good.”

The celebration was organized by Scot Hardwick, the Grandmaster of the local Masonic Lodge. Taylor has been a Freemason and a member of the lodge for 67 years. Monday happened to be his anniversary date.

"You don’t see this - our World War II vets as everyone is talking about," Hardwick explained. "We’re losing X-amount a year, but to have him and representing this masonry in this area is great.”

He said Taylor is the only vet of his kind in this region -  or more specifically, the only “Wolfhound” in this region.

“Every day in my mind - every day. I don’t miss a day," Taylor explained. "We are what we call the Wolfhound.'”

Taylor was also made a member of the National Sojourner’s during a special ceremony afterwards. The National Sojourner's is an organization consisting of Freemasons who served in the armed forces.