Captain Larry Taylor of Signal Mountain, Tennessee will receive the Congressional Medal of Honor to be awarded within 30 days by President Joe Biden. The President called Captain Taylor on Saturday morning congratulating him on being the recipient of the “highest military award given to a soldier.”
Captain Taylor graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in June 1966 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in armor. After completion of the armor officers basic course, he concluded being on the ground was not in his future. He attended flight training and was later assigned to one of the Army’s first Cobra companies in Vietnam.
With the 1st Squadron, 4th U.S. Cavalry, 1st Infantry Division, Taylor flew well over 2,000 combat missions in the UH-1 and Cobra helicopters. He was engaged by enemy fire 340 times and was forced down five times. He was awarded 61 combat decorations, including 44 Air Medals, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, two Bronze Stars, and four Distinguished Flying Crosses.
There were many harrowing operations, but one in particular rises above the others. On June 18, 1968, Taylor rescued a four-man long range reconnaissance patrol at significant risk to his life. For his heroic actions that night, he was awarded the Silver Star. That award has now been upgraded by the White House to Congressional Medal of Honor. President Biden plans a public ceremony with Taylor and some of his friends. Captain Taylor concluded his military service with the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in West Germany.
After leaving the Army, Taylor operated a roofing and sheet metal company in Chattanooga. He has been involved in several veterans organizations including the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 203 in Chattanooga.
Captain Taylor’s story and a full display will be added to the Charles H. Coolidge Medal of Honor Heritage Center in Chattanooga. It was noted that retired Four Star General B.B. Bell of Chattanooga. Retired General Bill Raines, Tennessee’s two senators and a host of others have been working with the Pentagon on this honor for some time. The White House said, “General Bell gave it his full attention and endorsement.” Close friend, retired Army LTC Ray Adkins said, “This is one soldier that is well deserving of the honor which is long overdue.” Adkins plans to accompany Taylor to Washington for the ceremony.
In an interview earlier with the writer, Captain Taylor said, “I never lost a man because it was my job not to leave a soldier behind.” One of the four men saved by Captain Taylor was SSG David Hill who now lives in Nevada. Hill visited Chattanooga two years ago and told Vietnam Veterans, Chapter 203, “I’m alive today because Captain Taylor saved my life.” Hill is the only one of the four still alive.
The last person to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor from Southeast Tennessee was Marion County’s Ray Duke. That was in 1954.
Taylor and his wife, Toni, reside at Signal Mountain.
(Portions of this story are from the White House Press Room and University of Tennessee press office.)