President Biden, on a Tuesday, bestowed the Medal of Honor upon the esteemed 81-year-old retired Captain Larry L. Taylor. Larry, a valiant helicopter pilot during the tumultuous Vietnam War, embarked on numerous perilous missions and put his life on the line to rescue four fellow countrymen ensnared in a fierce firefight.
During the distinguished ceremony held at the White House, President Biden shared Larry’s reaction when he informed him of this long-overdue recognition. Larry’s reply was candidly humble, stating, ” When I called Larry to let him know he finally was receiving this recognition, his response was, ‘I thought you had to do something to receive the Medal of Honor,'” The President reiterated with admiration, ” Let me say that again, he said, ‘I thought you had to do something to receive the Medal of Honor.’ Well Larry, you sure as hell did something, man.”
Larry, a first lieutenant at the time, found himself in a dire situation on June 18, 1968, supporting a beleaguered patrol surrounded by a relentless enemy force. In the face of relentless enemy fire and in the dead of night, Larry and his wingman executed audacious low-level attack runs. As their ammunition ran perilously low, Larry received word that the rescue plan for the beleaguered patrol had been scrapped. Undaunted, he made a fateful decision to extract the team using his two-man Cobra helicopter, an endeavor never previously attempted, let alone achieved.
As President Biden recounted the story, “The rescue helicopter was not coming,”. Instead, Lieutenant Taylor received an unequivocal order: return to base. In response, he delivered an equally unequivocal retort, “I’m getting my men out. I’m getting my men out.’ Lieutenant Taylor would perform the extraction himself, a move never before accomplished in a Cobra.”
With his wingman conducting the final mini-gun runs and returning to the base camp, Taylor, displaying unparalleled bravery, utilized his remaining mini-gun rounds. He utilized his landing lights to draw the enemy’s attention away as the soldiers advanced to an extraction point.
Once his valiant team reached the designated extraction site, Larry executed a daring landing under a hail of enemy fire. His fearless action, carried out with complete disregard for his own safety, allowed the soldiers to board the Cobra, and he spirited them away to safety. On that fateful day, Larry indelibly rewrote the life stories of the four men he rescued, leaving an enduring legacy for generations to come, as noted by the President.
Sgt. David Hill, the lone surviving member of Taylor’s heroic mission and the driving force behind Larry’s Medal of Honor recognition, was present among the audience at the White House, bearing witness to the well-deserved honor bestowed upon his comrade.
Larry’s dedicated service led to his honorable release from active duty in August 1970, followed by his discharge from the U.S. Army Reserve in October 1973.
The Medal of Honor, the most prestigious accolade bestowed upon military personnel for their exceptional gallantry and valor in the field, often at the peril of their own lives. According to the National Medal of Honor Museum, only 3,515 individuals who have served in the Armed Forces, out of the 40 million who have served since the Civil War, have been deemed deserving of this distinguished honor.