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A Tennessean who conducted a daring helicopter rescue during the Vietnam War will be awarded the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, more than 50 years after his heroic actions.
Retired Captain Larry Taylor of Signal Mountain, Tennessee, will be given the award by President Joe Biden for rescuing four soldiers under heavy fire from communist forces during a firefight in 1968. Taylor was deployed to Vietnam from 1967-1968, where he ran 2,000 combat missions and was fired at 340 times, according to the Army.
The act that earned Taylor the Medal of Honor occurred on June 18, 1968, during a battle in the hamlet of Ap Go Cong, then part of the Republic of Vietnam. Taylor was the leader of a helicopter light-fire support team that was tasked with helping four soldiers who had been surrounded by communist forces during a reconnaissance mission.
#BREAKING: @WhiteHouse just announced that #USArmy Capt. Larry Taylor will be awarded on Tuesday the #MedalOfHonor for his heroic actions on June 18, 1968, as a first lieutenant with 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam.
— U.S. Army (@USArmy) September 1, 2023
Taylor and another helicopter provided air support for the soldiers for about 45 minutes before the choppers ran low on ammo and left to scout out an escape route the reconnaissance team was supposed to take.
He then returned and discovered that plans for a UH-1 “Huey” helicopter to rescue the soldiers had been scrapped “because it stood almost no chance of success,” according to a White House press release.
“Running low on fuel, with the patrol team nearly out of ammunition, Taylor decided to extract the team using his two-man Cobra helicopter, a feat that had never been accomplished or even attempted,” the White House said. “When the team reached the site, Taylor landed his Cobra under heavy enemy fire and with complete disregard for his personal safety. The patrol team climbed aboard, grabbing on to rocket-pods and skids, and Taylor carried them to a safe location before landing them back on the ground.”
Speaking last year on the anniversary of the rescue, a member of the patrol that Taylor rescued said he did not think he would survive the battle.
“Who would have bet that any of us would have even the sun come up on the morning of June 19, 1968, let alone the dawns of another 54 years? Words are inadequate to describe your actions, nor my humble gratitude for the many years of friendship given you and me since then, so I will just say: thank you, sir,” Dave Hill said.
Taylor, born in Chattanooga, also earned the Silver Star, a Bronze Star, 43 Air Medals, and two Distinguished Flying Crosses. After his service, Taylor went into the roofing and sheet metal business.