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Helicopter pilot Larry Taylor eceives Medal of Honor for daring rescue during Vietnam War

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In a gripping tale of heroism and selflessness, Army Capt. Larry Taylor, a helicopter pilot, received the Medal of Honor for his daring rescue mission during the Vietnam War. Taylor’s fearless actions, which took place on June 18, 1968, exemplify the extraordinary lengths some individuals will go to in the service of others. This article will delve into the details of his remarkable journey, from his early days in the military to the pivotal rescue mission that earned him the nation’s highest military award.

The Call to Duty

Larry L. Taylor, born in Tennessee in 1942, was destined for a life of service. He joined the Army Reserve Officer Training Program while attending the University of Tennessee, receiving his commission as a second lieutenant in the Army Reserve in June 1966. He later transitioned to active-duty Army as an armor officer in August of the same year. However, Taylor’s path was about to take an unexpected turn.

Choosing the Sky over the Ground

Vietnam was a battleground filled with danger, and Taylor faced a crucial decision: stay on the ground or take to the sky. He opted for the latter, becoming an aviation officer and piloting UH-1 and Cobra helicopters. This decision allowed him to unleash firepower from the sky, a choice he found preferable to being on the receiving end of enemy fire on the ground.

Extraordinary Combat Record

Taylor’s time in Vietnam was marked by incredible bravery and resilience. He flew over 2,000 combat missions, enduring forced landings on five occasions and engaging the enemy in combat an astounding 340 times. His courage earned him numerous combat decorations, including 43 Air Medals, a Bronze Star, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star.

The Fateful Night

The events leading to Taylor’s Medal of Honor began on a dark and treacherous night. He was piloting his AH-1G Cobra helicopter when a distress call came in. A four-man long-range reconnaissance patrol team was pinned down by the enemy, with no apparent means of escape. Taylor and his copilot sprang into action.

A Hero’s Rescue

In the face of darkness and uncertainty, Taylor navigated the treacherous night sky. He coordinated with the troops on the ground, using flares to guide him to their location. Despite the risk of revealing their position, the flares were essential for the rescue mission. As Taylor’s helicopter descended, enemy fire intensified. Undeterred, he and his wingman strafed the enemy with mini-guns and aerial rockets. Their relentless attacks provided crucial cover for the stranded troops below.

Unprecedented Valor

Taylor’s determination and ingenuity shone through as the rescue attempt unfolded. Despite being in a two-person aircraft, he managed to land and rescue the four soldiers. With no room inside the helicopter, the soldiers clung to its exterior, demonstrating their trust in Taylor’s piloting skills.

A Legacy of Heroism

Larry Taylor’s daring rescue mission on that fateful night was an unprecedented feat of bravery. His relentless pursuit of saving his fellow soldiers, even when the odds seemed insurmountable, earned him the Medal of Honor. In the eyes of President Joe Biden, and indeed, the entire nation, Taylor’s actions were nothing short of extraordinary.

Conclusion

The story of Larry Taylor, the helicopter pilot who received the Medal of Honor for his daring rescue during the Vietnam War, is a testament to the unwavering spirit of selflessness and heroism that defines the military. His actions on that harrowing night changed the lives of four families and left an indelible mark on the annals of American military history.

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FAQs

  1. What is the Medal of Honor? The Medal of Honor is the highest military award in the United States, awarded for acts of extraordinary valor in combat.
  2. How many combat missions did Larry Taylor fly? Larry Taylor flew over 2,000 combat missions during his time in the military.
  3. What were some of the awards Larry Taylor received for his service? Larry Taylor received numerous awards, including 43 Air Medals, a Bronze Star, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star.
  4. Why did Larry Taylor choose to become an aviation officer? Taylor chose to become an aviation officer because he preferred the firepower and mobility of helicopters over being on the ground in a combat zone.
  5. What made Larry Taylor’s rescue mission so extraordinary? Larry Taylor’s rescue mission was extraordinary because he successfully rescued four soldiers under intense enemy fire, despite the odds stacked against them.
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