John Taylor, owner of O.P. Taylors toy store in Brevard, invited WWII pilot Ed Cottrell to visit the store and sign a model of the P-47 fighter-bomber in which Cottrell flew 65 missions in the Battle of the Bulge. Called “the Thunderbolt,” Cottrell praised the P-47 for its toughness.

A Fighter Pilot’s Story of Survival

He said, “My crew chief showed me 30-40 bullet holes from small arms fire after one of my missions. The tough plane kept flying. And when my 18-cylinder engine was shot and the German Me-109s showed up on my tail, I barely made it back to my landing strip—but I made it. The Pratt & Whitney engine got me home with only 10 cylinders working. It only stopped working when I was on final approach to land. I made a dead-stick landing. I kissed the ground. I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t had that Pratt & Whitney engine.” Cottrell flew from a small makeshift runway in St. Tron, Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge.

A Toy Store that Honors Heroes and Preserves History

Toy store owner John Taylor said, “We can custom-build just about any historic airplane or ship a customer wants. They are hand-painted with authentic markings. In our collection, we have a B-25 autographed by Richard E. Cole, Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot and the last surviving Doolittle Raider. We have a model of the Titanic autographed by a survivor of the sinking, Millvina Dean.

“We have a model of the USS Arizona autographed by four of its survivors of the Dec. 7, 1941 attack—Pearl Harbor Day. We have many historically-important autographed models for sale—and not as expensive as you might think. In addition, we have a complete selection of build-yourself models in plastic or wood and we can order what you want. Having Joe Cooper, Ed Cottrell, and George Sarros here is amazing. And Duke Woodhull, the U2 pilot, too.”

Returning to the subject of our area WWII veterans, Taylor said, “Having Joe Cooper, Ed Cottrell, and George Sarros here is amazing. And Duke Woodhull, the U2 pilot, too.”

Taylor supports the Veterans History Museum with an annual sponsorship and suggests to his customers they visit the museum, taking them out onto the sidewalk and pointing the way.

Saturday Morning WWII Stories for Kids and Parents or Grandparents

WWII P-47 pilot Ed Cottrell (shown in photo above) will tell the stories (via Zoom) of his survival fighting the Germans during the Veterans History Museum’s “Saturday Morning Stories Told by WWII Veterans” on Saturday, November 4.

Speaking in person will be George Sarros, U.S. Navy Motor Machinist on LST (Landing Ship, Tanks) 515 on Omaha Beach on D-Day and Joe Cooper, U.S. Navy Gunner’s Mate on the USS Ommaney Bay when it was attacked and sunk by a kamikaze in the Pacific. Registration begins at 8:30 for the program beginning at 9am and ending at noon on November 4. The location is Grace Church, 55 East Jordan Street in Brevard (in the front of the American Legion building). The WWII veterans will be available to sign books containing their stories and answer questions from the audience.

A fund-raiser for the museum, registration is $50. Parents, grandparents, or adult guardians are invited to bring kids under 18 for free. Register by emailing Mike McCarthy at or calling 828-506-6671. You may also register online at Walk-ins are also welcome.

Scholarship Opportunities to Give

Anyone who would like to sponsor a student or veteran to the “Saturday Morning Stories Told by WWII Veterans” may donate a $50 scholarship. You may designate the recipient or ask the conference director, Mike McCarthy to name a recipient. Please use the contact information above.

O.P. Taylor’s stores are at 16 South Broad Street in Brevard, 418 N. Main Street in Hendersonville, and 117 N. Main Street in Greenville, S.C.:

Photo: WWII pilot Ed Cottrell signs model of his P-47 (on lower wing) with John Taylor (at right