The Congressional Medal of Honor Society announced that Larry L. Taylor, 81, a roofing contractor and recipient of the Medal of Honor for the Vietnam War, passed away on Jan. 28, 2024, at his home in Signal Mountain, Tenn.
Born on Feb. 12, 1942, after graduating from Chattanooga High School (Chattanooga, Tenn.), Taylor attended the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and joined its U.S. Army Reserve Officer Training Program. He was commissioned as an Army second lieutenant in the Army Reserve upon graduation in June 1966. He volunteered for the regular Army in August.
He attended the U.S. Army Primary Helicopter School at Fort Wolters, Texas, and then advanced helicopter training at Fort Novosel (formerly Fort Rucker, Ala.), where he qualified as an Army aviator in June 1967. Taylor flew more than 2,000 combat missions, first in a UH-1 Huey helicopter before becoming one of the first AH-1 Cobra helicopters pilots during the Vietnam War.
Upon leaving active duty as a captain, Taylor operated a successful roofing and sheet metal company in Chattanooga.
President Joe Biden presented Taylor with the Medal of Honor at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 5, 2023, for his actions near the village of Ap Go Cong, Binh Du'ong Providence, Vietnam.
Then-1st Lt. Taylor was commander of a team of two Cobra helicopter gunships responding to an urgent call for support by a four-man patrol team. Once reaching the area, Taylor and his wingman targeted the enemy encircling the patrol team, flying multiple low-level passes under intense enemy fire. As the gunships' ammunition ran low, Taylor continued to make fake gun runs at low altitude to distract the enemy from the men on the ground.
Given the heavy fire they were encountering, he determined the patrol team's planned evacuation route was unviable. Taylor then landed his helicopter 100 yards away, still under intense enemy fire, to meet the patrol team on the ground. With the team climbing onboard wherever they could, including seated on rocket-pods and skids, Taylor evacuated the entire patrol team, thereby saving their lives.
Taylor's awards include the Medal of Honor (upgraded from the Silver Star), the Bronze Star, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, numerous Air Medals and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star. He subsequently was assigned to the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Germany.
He was actively engaged in veterans' organizations and his church, and known to be a philanthropist, supporting various charitable nonprofits in the Chattanooga area. He is survived by his wife, Toni, and other family members. Funeral arrangements are pending.
There are 63 Medal of Honor Recipients alive today.