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Vietnam vet to receive Medal of Honor for heroic rescue mission

The Medal of Honor (U.S. Air Force/Released)
September 01, 2023

In a heartwarming testament to heroism, Vietnam veteran Larry Taylor is set to receive the esteemed Medal of Honor from President Joe Biden, marking over half a century since his valorous actions during the Vietnam War.

According to Stars and Stripes, Taylor’s courageous story dates back to June 18, 1968. On that night, Army Ranger Sergeant David Hill and three other members of a reconnaissance unit found themselves trapped in a rice paddy near a village northeast of Saigon.

Surrounded on three sides by North Vietnamese forces, Hill outlined the dire circumstances they faced.

“Hell, we were dead,” he said, emphasizing that “the fortunes of war had turned against us that night.”

Upon receiving a distress call, First Lieutenant Taylor and another pilot took to the skies in their Cobra helicopters. Despite the challenges of visibility and potential friendly fire, Taylor’s swift thinking led the trapped soldiers to mark their location with flares.

The subsequent 30-minute barrage, where Taylor and his wingman exhausted their rockets and machine-gun rounds, made a daring rescue possible. Drawing enemy attention with his Cobra’s landing lights, Taylor cleverly allowed the U.S. soldiers to head towards an extraction point.

When asked about his heroic actions, Taylor said, “I was doing my job. I knew that if I did not go down and get them, they would not make it.”

Taylor’s distinguished military career led to the Vietnam veteran receiving 61 combat awards. Taylor served with the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry, 1st Infantry Division and completed over 2,000 combat missions.

According to Stars and Stripes, his accolades include the Silver Star, 43 Air Medals, a Bronze Star, two Distinguished Flying Crosses and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with the Bronze Star.

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However, the path to recognizing Taylor’s exceptional valor with the Medal of Honor was not easy. An unfortunate event led to the initial omission of his deserving commendation. Taylor’s commanding officer, Gen. Keith Ware, tragically died in battle, causing the recommendation for the award to be set aside. Decades later, Hill spearheaded a relentless campaign, spanning over seven years, to rectify the oversight.

Despite facing multiple rejections, the dedicated group led by Hill finally decided to include new testimonies from soldiers who had witnessed Taylor’s valorous rescue, which ultimately led to a successful appeal to award Taylor the Medal of Honor.

According to Stars and Stripes, while Taylor has acknowledged that he is proud to be awarded the Medal of Honor, he explained that he is even more proud to have remained committed to the military motto “leave no man behind.”

This news article was partially created with the assistance of artificial intelligence and edited and fact-checked by a human editor.