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Biden to Award Medal of Honor to Heroic Vietnam Pilot

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Biden to Award Medal of Honor to Heroic Vietnam PilotVietnam War pilot to receive Medal of Honor for heroic rescue on Tuesday.

At the White House, Biden is honoring retired Tennessee Capt. Larry Taylor.

On the evening of June 18, 1968, the men were encircled by the enemy when then-1st Lt. Taylor used his Cobra attack helicopter to fly to their rescue.

Taylor’s Heroic Rescue

In an interview this week, Taylor, who is now 81, recalled that he had to figure out how to get them out or else “they wouldn’t make it.”

One of the four people Taylor saved that evening, David Hill, said Taylor’s efforts exemplified what “we now call thinking outside the box.”

Hill and the others were spotted by North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops when they were on a nighttime mission to follow the movement of enemy soldiers in a village close to the Saigon River.

They got into a fierce combat and quickly ran out of ammo. They radioed for assistance.

At the location northeast of what is now Ho Chi Minh City, Taylor arrived within minutes. He instructed the group to launch flares to indicate their location at night.

Taylor launched low-level attack runs and endured intensive ground fire for almost a half-hour before he and a pilot in an escorting helicopter began firing their ships’ Miniguns and rockets at the enemy.

Taylor’s Risky Evacuation

Taylor assessed the team’s planned route toward a spot near the river and determined that the soldiers wouldn’t reach it.

This was despite the helicopters being low on ammunition, and the enemy closing in. He had to come up with an alternative.

Taylor told his wingman to fire the rounds he had left in his Minigun along the team’s eastern flank and retreat to base camp while he fired the rest of his rounds on the western flank as he was now running short on fuel and almost out of ammo himself.

In order to acquire time for the patrol squad to move south and east toward a fresh extraction spot he had found, he used the landing lights to divert the enemy.

Taylor landed at significant personal risk and under intense enemy fire after they got there.

There were only two seats in the helicopter, so the four team members rushed for it and clung to the outside before Taylor whisked them to safety. He lay still for almost ten seconds.

Taylor added over the phone,

“I ultimately approached them from behind, landed on the ground,” Taylor recounted during a phone conversation.

“They quickly turned and leaped onto the aircraft. Some of them perched on the skids, one found a spot on the rocket pods, and I’m not sure where the last one was, but they knocked on the side of the aircraft twice, signaling us to move out. And we did!” in fact.”

The Army claimed that Taylor’s actions that evening had never been undertaken before.

During his year-long tour in Vietnam, Taylor claimed to have flown hundreds of combat flights in UH-1 and Cobra helicopters. “We never suffered a loss,” he affirmed.

He explained, “You simply take the necessary actions and do whatever it takes to preserve the lives of those you’re attempting to rescue.”

Taylor’s Post-Vietnam Life and Medal Recognition

In August 1968, Taylor departed Vietnam. Having earned the rank of captain, he was removed from Army active duty in August 1970.

He also retired from Army Reserve duty in October 1973. Later, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, he managed a roofing and sheet metal business.

He makes his home in Signal Mountain, Tennessee, alongside his wife Toni.

He was awarded numerous combat awards, including two Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Bronze Star, and a Silver Star.

But Hill claimed in an interview that he and Taylor’s other supporters were startled to find that Taylor had not received a Medal of Honor long after that terrifying night.

Hill declared that they thought Taylor was deserving of the medal, which is awarded to service members who go above and beyond the call of duty by frequently risking their lives in selfless acts of valor.

More than six years passed throughout their fight. In July, Biden called Taylor and broke the news.

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