Larry Taylor, a former helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War, was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Joe Biden in a ceremony honoring his extraordinary bravery and selflessness. Taylor, now 81 years old, was recognized for his heroic actions during a daring rescue mission in 1968.
Who is Capt. Larry Taylor?
On the night of June 18, 1968, Lt. Larry Taylor embarked on a rescue mission in his attack helicopter to save four men who were surrounded by enemy troops in a rice field near Saigon. The men were on a mission to track enemy movement when they were discovered and engaged in a fierce firefight, running low on ammunition.
Taylor’s helicopter arrived at the scene, but poor visibility made it difficult for him to provide support without risking harm to the trapped soldiers. He asked them to send up flares to mark their location.
Taylor and another pilot engaged in low-level attack runs, firing their helicopters’ Miniguns and aerial rockets at the enemy despite intense ground fire. They used up all their ammunition, but the enemy continued to advance, and the soldiers’ intended escape route was too risky.
With fuel running low and the reconnaissance team nearly out of ammunition, Taylor devised an unconventional plan. He directed his wingman to fire the remaining rounds from his Minigun along the team’s eastern flank while he fired his remaining rounds on the western flank. Taylor also used the helicopter’s landing lights to distract the enemy.
This innovative approach bought precious time for the patrol team to head to a different extraction point Taylor had identified. Once they reached the location, Taylor landed under heavy enemy fire, and the four team members clung to the exterior of the aircraft as he swiftly evacuated them to safety.
What Larry Taylor did that night had never been attempted before, making it an extraordinary act of valor. Despite facing numerous challenges, including poor visibility, limited ammunition, and intense enemy fire, Taylor’s quick thinking and courage saved the lives of the trapped soldiers.
Taylor recounted, “I knew that if I did not go down and get them, they would not make it.” Without his outside-the-box thinking, the odds of survival for the soldiers would have been “absolutely zero,” according to one of the rescued men, David Hill.
Larry Taylor’s incredible bravery was finally acknowledged as he received the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration in the U.S. Armed Forces. Despite having previously received the Silver Star and other honors, supporters felt that Taylor’s exceptional actions in Vietnam deserved this highest recognition.