Chattanooga Native’s Valor Recognized Decades Later

Former U.S. Army Captain Larry L. Taylor, a Chattanooga native, will receive the Medal of Honor at the White House on Tuesday, September 5, for his extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry during the Vietnam War in 1968. This long-overdue recognition comes as a testament to Taylor’s fearless actions as a helicopter pilot with Troop D (Air), 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry, 1st Infantry Division.

Rescue Under Fire: Taylor’s Daring Helicopter Heroics

On June 18, 1968, then-1st Lt Taylor was part of a two-helicopter team dispatched to support a four-man long-range reconnaissance patrol team in peril near the hamlet of Ap Go Cong, Republic of Vietnam. Taylor and his wingman, both piloting AH-1G Cobra helicopter gunships, embarked on a harrowing mission that would ultimately define his legacy.

Departing from their Phu Loi base, Taylor and his wingman arrived at the contact site just northeast of Saigon a few minutes later. Their objective: To locate and rescue the besieged patrol team. What followed was 45 minutes of relentless and courageous action as Taylor and his wingman conducted low-level attack runs, strafing the enemy with mini-guns and rockets while braving intense ground fire.

Capt. Taylor
(Image source: US Army)

As both helicopters neared depletion of ammunition and the enemy continued to close in on the beleaguered patrol team, Taylor realized that conventional rescue plans were falling apart. Another attempt to rescue the patrol team using a UH-1 “Huey” helicopter had been canceled due to the escalating danger.

With fuel running perilously low and the patrol team on the brink of running out of ammunition, Taylor made a daring and innovative decision. He resolved to extract the team using his two-man Cobra helicopter, a feat that had never been attempted, let alone achieved.

Taylor directed his wingman to fire his remaining mini-gun rounds and then return to base camp. In an audacious maneuver, Taylor deployed his own remaining rounds while using his Cobra’s landing lights to draw the enemy’s attention away from the patrol team, who were heading southeast toward a designated extraction point.

Upon the patrol team’s arrival at the extraction site, Taylor executed a landing under heavy enemy fire, displaying complete disregard for his personal safety. The patrol team clambered aboard his Cobra, sitting on the rocket pods and skids, as Taylor carried them to a safe location, defying overwhelming odds and securing their escape.