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Biden to award Medal to Honor to Vietnam War helicopter pilot

Ret. Capt. Larry L. Taylor and wife, Toni Taylor. The White House on Friday said President Joe Biden will award the Medal of Honor to Taylor for his gallantry in protecting U.S. troops in Vietnam in 1968. Photo courtesy of the Taylor family for the U.S. Army
Ret. Capt. Larry L. Taylor and wife, Toni Taylor. The White House on Friday said President Joe Biden will award the Medal of Honor to Taylor for his gallantry in protecting U.S. troops in Vietnam in 1968. Photo courtesy of the Taylor family for the U.S. Army

Sept. 1 (UPI) -- The White House on Friday said President Joe Biden will award the Medal of Honor to Army Capt. Larry L. Taylor for his "conspicuous gallantry" in protecting U.S. troops in Vietnam more than half a century ago.

The Medal of Honor is awarded to service members of the U.S. armed forces who distinguish themselves in warfare at the risk of their own lives above and beyond the call of duty.

Previously, Taylor had been honored with both the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal for his actions as a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War.

Taylor was honorably released from active duty in 1970 after attaining the rank of captain and from the U.S. Army Reserve 1973.

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According to a statement released from the White House on Friday, Taylor distinguished himself with his actions in June 1968, during which he served as lieutenant in the U.S. Army as a helicopter pilot.

During the Vietnam War, then-First Lt. Larry L. Taylor was a Cobra helicopter pilot. Photo courtesy of Lewis D. Ray for the U.S. Army
During the Vietnam War, then-First Lt. Larry L. Taylor was a Cobra helicopter pilot. Photo courtesy of Lewis D. Ray for the U.S. Army

While on a mission near Ap Go Cong in the Republic of Vietnam that year, Taylor and his wingman assisted a long-range reconnaissance patrol of four U.S. soldiers who had been surrounded by enemy forces. Braving ground fire, Taylor and his wingman strafed the enemy with guns and rockets from their Cobra helicopters for more than 45 minutes and despite running low on ammunition.

Acting decisively after learning a planned rescue helicopter would not make it to the soldiers in time, Taylor and his wingman fired on forces and used their small 2-man helicopter to land under fire and pick up the U.S. soldiers, who climbed onto the aircraft's landing skids and held onto its rocket pods while Taylor flew the soldiers to safety.

At the time, the rescue was a feat that had never been accomplished or even attempted.

"Taylor's conspicuous gallantry, his profound concern for his fellow soldiers, and his intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army," the White House said in a statement announcing the honor, which Biden will bestow next Tuesday at the White House.

Taylor was born in Chattanooga, Tenn., and is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He served in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot from August 1967 to August 1968.