Robert T. Lyon, Jr.
Biography: Robert Taylor Lyon, Jr. was born on June 16, 1922, in Bluff City, Tennessee. He was the son of Robert Taylor Sr. and Martha Maude Richards and attended Bluff City High School, graduating in 1940. Prior to the war, Robert worked at Bristol Weaver Company in Bristol, TN, as a repairman for their textile machinery.
Service Time: Robert entered the service on January 5, 1943, at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. After his initial training, he was shipped to the North African Theater of Operations as a replacement and assigned to the Reconnaissance Company of the 636th Tank Destroyer Battalion. During his time with the unit, he served as a truck driver. Robert landed with the unit at Paestum, Italy, where elements of the 636th performed artillery missions and guarded the Fifth Army Command Post. They also trained British troops on the M10 tank destroyer and TD doctrine in October and November of 1943.
They reentered action in the Mignano sector in late November, supporting the assault on San Pietro and the Rapido River crossing in January, 1944, eventually entering the Cassino Sector in February. They were transferred to the Anzio beachhead in May and entered Rome on June 4th. On June 23, 1944, Robert volunteered to be part of a small raiding party tasked to attack an enemy command post. The group captured 5 prisoners, after a fierce firefight, but then faced heavy mortar and small arms fire on their way back to the line. When the prisoners tried to escape, it took hand to hand combat to finally subdue them and make it back to Allied controlled territory. For his actions, Robert received a Bronze Star.
The 636th landed in southern France, on August 15, 1944, and were the first unit to enter Lyon and reach the Moselle River. They engaged the enemy in the Vosges Mountain region, beginning in October and relieved the 601st TD Battalion in Strasbourg, in December. While still in France, on December 9, Robert was wounded and recieved a Purple Heart.
In January and February of 1945, they battled the German Northwind offensive and converted to the M36 tank destroyerin late February. They attacked the Siegfried Line near Wissembourg, Germany,in late March and crossed the Rhine River, with the 14th Armored Division, in April. They finally moved toward Nürnberg and ended their war in southern Bavaria, near Tegernsee. Many of the soldiers were being discharged on points andsince he didn’t have enough to go home, Robert was transferred to the 94th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized).
Robert left the service on September 22, 1945, at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, at the rank of Private First Class. He participated in the campaigns of Naples – Foggia, Rome Arno, Southern France, Rhineland and Central Europe.
After the war, Robert worked as a carpenter, a farmer and a storekeeper. On August 30, 1946, he married the former Martha Ellen Miller. She was born in Bluff City also and was the daughter of Edgar Dewey Miller and Maggie Mae Miller. The couple stayed in Bluff City and had two children, Carolyn, born in 1947, and Bret in 1963. Robert passed away on December 2, 2009, and was buried in the Chinquaopin Grove, Baptish Church Cemetery, in Bluff City. The photo above left is Robert in the family store.
While watching a documentary called “The Long Way Home”, a 1997 film by Koch Lorber, Bret recognized his father as one of the men crossing the bridge. He can be seen in both the trailer and the actual film. The following is a link to the trailer:
I want to thank Robert’s son, Bret, for supplying the materials for this tribute.