Sep 7, 2023

Medal Of Honor Recipient Captain Larry L. Taylor Is Inducted Into The Hall Of Heroes Transcript

Medal Of Honor Recipient Captain Larry L. Taylor Is Inducted Into The Hall Of Heroes
RevBlogTranscriptsHall of HeroesMedal Of Honor Recipient Captain Larry L. Taylor Is Inducted Into The Hall Of Heroes Transcript

Medal of Honor recipient Larry L. Taylor was inducted into the Hall of Heroes for his valor displayed during the Vietnam War. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):

Captain Taylor was presented our nation’s highest and most prestigious Award for Valor by the President of the United States, the Medal of Honor. This morning, he will formally be inducted into the Pentagon’s most sacred place, the Hall of Heroes. Our official party for today’s ceremony includes the Secretary of Defense, the Honorable Lloyd J. Austin III, the Secretary of the Army, the Honorable Christine E. Wormuth, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark A. Milley, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, General Randy A. George, and the Sergeant Major of the Army, Michael R. Weimer.

Ladies and gentlemen, please stand for the arrival of the official party and remain standing for the singing of our national anthem by Staff Sergeant Ian Kelly, and the invocation delivered by Chaplain William Green.

Staff Sergeant Ian Kelly (00:49):


Chaplain Brigadier General William Green, Jr. (03:27):

Good morning. Please bow with me for the invocation. Almighty God, the Author Of Liberty and our sustainer, protector and guide, hear our prayers and bless this ceremony with your presence as we honor Captain Larry Taylor, a courageous warrior and selfless leader. His valiant actions in Vietnam on June 18th, 1968 have rightly earned him the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest Medal for Valor in Combat and his heroism continues to inspire us today. Lord, we thank you for empowering him beyond measure in the crucible of combat where he selflessly put his comrades lives before his very own. He is a servant leader, whose actions calls us all to sacrificial service to one another.

As Captain Taylor is inducted into the Hall of Heroes and his name is unveiled and permanently etched into granite, we pray that the name Captain Larry L. Taylor will forever be an enduring reminder of his sacrifice and a perpetual inspiration to all who see it. Bless him anew this morning, along with his family members, leaders, fellow soldiers and friends who are present here with him in body and in spirit. And heavenly Father, we humbly ask that you sustain and empower all those serving to preserve and defend our nation today, as Captain Taylor did throughout his distinguished career. We pray all these blessings in your majestic and mighty name. Amen.

Speaker 1 (05:29):

Please be seated. Ladies and gentlemen, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army.

General Randy A. George (05:51):

Good morning, everyone. Captain Taylor, as well as your friends, family, and teammates, thank you for being here. I imagine you’ve had a hectic past few weeks and we appreciate that you are here with the Army team on Fort Myer. And sir, I noticed that you got a fresh haircut for today’s occasion. I did too. I think we might have the same barber. I keep telling her not to take so much off the top, but you definitely pull it off better than I do. Secretary Austin. Secretary Wormuth, it’s my pleasure to be up here with you today for this event. General Milley and other distinguished guests, thank you all for joining us.

We are here today to recognize an incredible American for acts of heroism. I want to set the scene for everyone in the audience. On the night of June 18th, 1968, four American soldiers were out on a long range reconnaissance patrol near the village of Ap Go Cong in Vietnam. They came across a North Vietnamese element that was much larger than they expected, a company plus of enemy fighters. And they soon found themselves surrounded and under heavy fire. It was the start of the rainy season and the men were soaking wet, standing and fighting from the slippery banks of a horse cart trail.

The radio was on the ground so that the antenna wouldn’t get blown off by an enemy bullet. The night was utterly dark, just a sliver of moon overhead and absolutely no light coming from the nearby village. But even if they couldn’t see the enemy’s faces, they could see the green flashes of enemy tracer rounds zooming past and hear the crack of near misses. The recon team leader radioed up to his higher headquarters for support. “We’re surrounded,” he said. Their supply of ammunition was dwindling quickly and the enemy was overwhelming. Death seemed close and certain.

Finally, Captain Taylor’s voice came over the radio: “This is Darkhorse 32.” He was flying at just the right angle to ensure that he could be heard over the throb of his rotor blades. Sergeant David Hill, one of the soldiers on the ground, heard Taylor’s voice come over the net. Sergeant Hill thought he sounded as cool and as casual as a bus tour guide in a big city. The mini guns on Captain Taylor’s Cobra Helicopter provided the recon team some reprieve, but they were all just biding time until the men could be extracted by a Huey. But the Hueys didn’t come,

Now low on fuel, Captain Taylor radioed back to the headquarters and asked for permission to extract the soldiers himself. “Negative,” he was told. “Come back to refuel and re-arm.”

” But they are surrounded,” Captain Taylor reiterated.

“Negative,” again, was a response. But Larry Taylor knew that the men on the ground had no hope of survival, so he defied the order and came in for a landing. The trapped soldiers raced for the bird, jumping on the rocket pods in the skids and then Captain Taylor pulled pitch with bullets still whizzing towards them. By the time Captain Taylor got back to base, he was out of ammunition, had just minutes of fuel left and his helicopter was badly damaged from enemy fire. What’s more, he found out that he was already being considered for punitive action for defying orders, but he had saved the lives of four men. Men that he didn’t personally know and wouldn’t know for more than two decades.

It is difficult for many to understand what would drive a person to take such risk for a stranger. To boldly act even when told to stand down and to fearlessly face death so that someone else might live. But in Captain Taylor’s words, in the Army, he knew a bond of brotherhood he’d never seen anywhere else. He served others over himself. An idea personified in the Army’s motto, “This We’ll Defend”. Captain Taylor exemplifies what is great about our Army. He recognized that there was something that only he could do and he boldly did it. He brought calm and clarity to men who were enduring chaos and he stayed by their side at great risk to his own life. He demonstrated unbelievable courage, strength of will and selflessness.

Ultimately, our Army recognized that Captain Taylor’s actions were the right ones. His Cobra extraction became a teaching tool at Ranger school to show how leaders could continue to find solutions in complex situations. And though it’s long overdue, yesterday, the President honored his actions with the highest award a soldier can receive.

Captain Taylor, sir, your story is now part of our nation’s lore. By taking your place among other venerated heroes, you will continue to inspire generations of soldiers as they face their own challenges and you will forever represent to our country and to the world the strength, ingenuity and personal courage of American soldiers. Thank you and your family for your sacrifice, for your service, and for your example.

Speaker 1 (11:48):

Ladies and gentlemen, the Secretary of the Army,

Christine E. Wormuth (12:12):

Thank you so much, General George, for that vivid account of Captain Taylor’s heroism. And thank you, Secretary Austin, for being with us here today. It has been such a privilege for all of us in the Army and the Department of Defense to help share this remarkable story with the American people over the past few days.

Captain Taylor, it is an honor to be here with you and so many of your friends and family members. I’m also really happy to see your wife, Tony, in the audience today to celebrate this occasion. It’s been wonderful for all of us to see you supporting Captain Taylor, cheering him on just as you’ve done, I’m told, so enthusiastically for the last 52 years, and that’s a heck of an accomplishment. Some of Captain Taylor’s fellow veterans are here too, including Sergeant David Hill whose life he saved and staff Sergeant Mike Holden, who has remained one of Captain Taylor’s closest friends since a chance encounter at a Vietnam vets reunion.

The Army prides itself on bringing out the best in its people. Every day our soldiers have the chance to demonstrate their commitment to a higher cause and help keep the Army rolling along in defense of our nation. But not all of those soldiers will find themselves in combat. And among those, even fewer will ever face a decision to risk their own life to save the lives of their fellow soldiers. The names of those soldiers who stared down death in the service of something larger than themselves are inscribed on the wall of the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes, and now at the Memorial Garden of the new National Museum of the United States Army.

This morning, we are honored to add another name to both of those walls of honor and remembrance. The name of a person whose actions, as General George described them, bring to life one of our Army’s most critical values, selfless service. Medals of honor are rare. The acts they memorialize are uncommon, but those who have known Captain Larry Taylor throughout his life know that for him, selflessness is a part of who he is. So today, while we honor a single courageous act, I want to speak about Captain Taylor’s lifetime of commitment to this Army value.

The idea of service was instilled in Larry Taylor from his earliest days. His great uncle fought in World War I. His dad was in the Navy and fought in World War II. One of his uncles stormed Omaha beach, setting the stage for America’s liberation of Europe. And another uncle and airmen flew B24s in Germany. As Larry Taylor came of age in eastern Tennessee, he knew that the military offered him a path to serve something larger than himself. As soon as he graduated from college, he rushed to an army recruiter. The Vietnam War was escalating and the draft was in full effect, but as Captain Taylor later put it, “I didn’t need to be drafted in Vietnam. It was the honor of my life to serve there.”

Captain Taylor signed his commission as an armor officer, but quickly realized that helicopters were where he needed to be. So after qualifying as an army aviator, he headed to Vietnam, flying the Army’s brand new Cobra helicopter. So new, as I heard back in the green room, that we didn’t actually even have manuals and Captain Taylor was flying them based on worksheets. So that’s a heck of a thing. As a helicopter pilot, he flew well over 2000 combat missions, came under enemy fire 340 times and was forced down on five occasions. And not once did he falter when a call for help came sputtering over his radio. Time and time again during his army service, Captain Taylor put himself before others and got the job done. As we honor his actions on June 18th, 1968, I ask all of you to consider the remarkable selflessness that Captain Taylor demonstrated on that fateful night. In his own words, quote, “I had seen people captured and tortured and there was no doubt in my mind I just had to create a diversion and go and get the men on the ground.” He didn’t miss a beat, even in the face of his most extreme test. And we know that this was not the only day in Vietnam when his dogged determination to leave no man behind saved lives. Captain Taylor served in the army for three more years after his deployment to Vietnam was over, and even after he left the service, he would continue to put others before himself.

So you might not be surprised to learn that after returning to Tennessee, he taught at the Tennessee’s School for the Deaf. He was also active in supporting his local Vietnam Veterans of America chapter. And many years later, after taking over his father’s sheet metal company, Larry chose to give parts of it away when the time came for him to retire. Shop space, building materials, machinery, all of it went to the Boy Scouts of America, Habitat for Humanity and the town’s railroad museum. In the years after Vietnam, Captain Taylor and Tony

Christine E. Wormuth (18:00):

– Tony were putting down deeper roots in the Chattanooga area, and as they did, a movement was gaining momentum to upgrade his silver star to a higher and more rarely awarded honor. At the center of this effort were David Hill, one of the four soldiers he saved, and others like Mike Holden and General B. B. Bell, who were not present on that fateful night. They worked tirelessly to share the story of Captain Taylor’s heroism and their own selfless efforts drew more to their cause, members of Congress, artists and musicians. Captain Taylor inspired them and he inspires us, reminding us that we are all bound together by our common humanity and often we depend on others in tough situations. People can be quick these days, it seems to put their own needs and interests ahead of others, but Larry Taylor reminds us what genuine service looks like. Captain Taylor, to this day, your legacy continues to reverberate within the United States Army and motivating Americans from all walks of life.

Your dedication to service shown in this single act that we honor today has inspired many. You didn’t dedicate your life to these values because you wanted or expected praise. From Chattanooga to Vietnam and back again and during each of your individual battles, including the one you are fighting now, you have kept a smile on your face and your composure. You have reminded us that when facing any problem, there is always a solution and you should never give up. You have even said that if transported back in time and given the chance, you would go back to Vietnam tomorrow and save those men all over again. Through it all, Captain Taylor, you have put others first. Today we are happy to put you first. We recognize and honor your selfless act and we applaud the countless selfless choices you have made. Thank you again, Captain Taylor for your truly selfless service.

Speaker 1 (20:26):

Ladies and gentlemen, the Secretary of Defense.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (20:50):

Well, good morning everyone. Secretary Wormuth, General George, thank you for your moving words and thank you for what you do each and every day to take care of our soldiers and their families. Let me add my thanks to our distinguished guests, including family and friends and battle buddies of Captain Larry Taylor. Yesterday, President Biden presented Captain Taylor with our nation’s highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor. And today I am deeply honored to be here with all of you as we add his name to our Hall of Heroes.

As you heard earlier, on the night of June 18th, 1968, then Lieutenant Taylor was at Phu Loi base camp when he heard the horn go off and he knew what that sound meant meant. It meant that somewhere American soldiers were in trouble and he had two minutes to get his Cobra attack helicopter in the air and fly towards them. So he got moving along with his copilot and another helicopter team. Now, Lieutenant Taylor had a radio frequency and he knew the general direction of where he was headed, but that was it. He didn’t know the exact coordinates of the soldiers who were in danger or what he would encounter once he got there, or later that night that he would pull off a feat that had never been done before. He just heard the horn and he took off flying.

Now, as you heard General George say earlier that evening, a long range patrol team of four soldiers had been on a reconnaissance mission and they walked into a rice paddy about the size of a football field and soon realized that they were in the middle of a staging ground for opposing forces and suddenly they were surrounded by at least 80 enemy troops. Now, these soldiers, these four American soldiers, were trained in escape and evasion, but in this case, they had nowhere to escape to. What they did have was a radio, and that was their lifeline because on the other end of that radio was Lieutenant Larry Taylor.

Lieutenant Taylor flew over the rice paddy, but he couldn’t see his comrades on the ground from his helicopter. He later recalled that it was so dark, it was like looking down into an inkwell, but four soldiers’ lives were in grave danger. So he daringly dipped to low altitudes to find them, and once he spotted their position, he directed his firepower to attack the encroaching enemy. And over the next 45 minutes, the American pilots in the air and the soldiers on the ground fought with everything that they had.

In return, the enemy was firing RPGs and bullets at them from every point on the compass. Now, even with the blast and the tremors of rockets and rifles, Lieutenant Taylor and his wing man, Warrant Officer James Ratliffe, fearlessly made treetop attacks on the opposing force. And when they ran low on firepower, Larry Taylor made fake runs to draw enemy fire toward his helicopter to spare the men on the ground. And soon Lieutenant Taylor had fired every single rocket and nearly every round that he had, and he was running low on gas. Now, usually that meant he would fly back to base and refuel and re-arm, but the four men on the ground were down to their last magazine of ammunition, and Lieutenant Taylor estimated that they were still outnumbered by at least 15 to 1 and no evacuation Huey Helicopter was on the way. And so leaving them behind would mean certain death. It was now or never.

So Lieutenant Taylor quickly came up with a plan. In a clear and calm voice he directed the soldiers where to point their last Claymore mines. And when Larry Taylor gave the signal, they detonated the mines. Now that cleared a path and the men ran as fast as they could through the clearing, and a few moments later, the four men could feel the downward blast coming from the Cobra’s blades. In Lieutenant Taylor’s words they all arrived at the same hole in the mud. Now, as many of you know, the Cobra was only designed to carry a pilot, a copilot and ammunition. And the cockpit was just 36 inches wide. And Larry, I still don’t know how you fit in that cockpit, but you did it somehow.

But Lieutenant Taylor remembers that it was so small that you couldn’t even open a paper map and have the map be useful to you. So it was no use in even opening the map. So evacuating soldiers with this kind of helicopter was absolutely unheard of and most would never think to even try it. But after making it through an intense firefight and miraculously meeting up with the patrol team on the ground, Lieutenant Taylor was willing to improvise. So over the radio, he told them men to hang on to the outside of his helicopter wherever they could, and Sergeant David Hill and Specialist Bill Cohen climbed onto the rocket pods and Specialist Gerald Patty and Private Bob Elsner held on tight to the skids and within 10 seconds they were off.

Lieutenant Taylor climbed to 1500 feet in the air before turning on his navigation lights. Moments before the patrol had feared for their lives. And the next 10-minute flight was the ride of their lives. Lieutenant Taylor touched down at a secure location and the four soldiers ran out in front of the helicopter, ducking under the blades, and they turned back to look to catch a glimpse of the pilot who had just risked everything to rescue them. They could hardly see Lieutenant Taylor’s helmet through the haze, but they gave him a salute and a grateful thumbs up. The valor that Lieutenant Taylor displayed that night was extraordinary. But to Larry Taylor, it was simple, he would never leave a man behind now or ever.

Since leaving military service, captain Taylor has gotten Christmas cards from the families of those he protected in Vietnam and at reunions he’s met many of their descendants because when Captain Taylor saved four lives that night, he secured the future of new generations of Americans. And I’m happy to say that there’s a new addition to that legacy. David Hill, one of the men who rode on the Cobra’s rocket pod is here with us today along with his four-month-old grandson. So let’s give them a round of applause.

Captain Taylor on that battlefield, some 55 years ago, it was now or never, and our Hall of Heroes will honor you now and forever. May we all draw inspiration from the resolve and the courage of this American hero. May God bless Captain Larry Taylor and his family and all those who stepped up to serve the country that we love and may God continue to bless the United States of America. Thank you.

Speaker 1 (31:02):

Secretary Wormuth, General Millie, General George, Sergeant Major Weimer, Captain and Ms. Taylor, Mr. Mike Holden and Mr. David Hill will now join Secretary Austin on the stage for the induction ceremony. Ladies and gentlemen, please remain seated during the presentations. The President of the United States of America authorized by Act of Congress, March 3rd, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Captain Larry L. Davis, United States Army for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. First Lieutenant Larry L. Taylor distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Troop D Air, First Squadron, Fourth Cavalry, First Infantry Division on June 18th, 1968, near the village of Op Go Kong, Republic of Vietnam.

On this date, First Lieutenant Taylor commanded a light fire team of two Cobra helicopter gunships scrambled on a nighttime mission in response to an urgent call for aerial fire support from a four-man long range patrol team. Upon arrival, First Lieutenant Taylor found the patrol team surrounded and heavily engaged by a larger Vietcong force. He immediately requested illumination rounds from supporting artillery to assist with identifying the enemy positions. Despite intense enemy ground fire, he flew at a perilously low altitude placing a devastating volume of aerial rocket and machine gun fire on the enemy forces encircling the friendly patrol.

For approximately 45 minutes First Lieutenant Taylor and his wingman continued to make low level, danger close attack runs on the surrounding enemy positions. When enemy fire increased from the village of Op Go Kong, he requested artillery rounds with lower illumination altitudes be fired on that portion of the village so that the burning rounds ignited the enemy positions. With both Cobra gunships nearly out of ammunition and the enemy still closing in on the patrol team, First Lieutenant Taylor flew the patrol team’s potential ground evacuation route, finding it unviable based on the heavy enemy fire encountered. Returning to the patrol team’s location, he continued to circle it at a low level under intense enemy fire, employing his searchlight to make fake gun runs on the enemy positions to distract him from the patrol team.

Running low on fuel and with the patrol team nearly out of ammunition, First Lieutenant Taylor decided to extract the team with his two man Cobra helicopter gunship, a feat never before accomplished. He directed his wingman to fire their remaining Minigun rounds on the patrol team’s east flank. First Lieutenant Taylor then fired his own last Minigun rounds on the enemy positions opening an avenue of movement to the east for the patrol team. He directed the patrol team to move 100 yards towards the extraction point where First Lieutenant Taylor, still under enemy fire, landed his helicopter and instructed the patrol team to climb aboard anywhere they could. With the four man long range patrol team seated on rocket pods and skids, he evacuated them to the nearest friendly location, undoubtedly saving their lives. First Lieutenant 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.

Speaker 2 (36:19):

At this time, the Medal of Honor flag will be presented. On the 23rd of October 2002, Public Law 107248, Section 8143 established the Medal of Honor flag to recognize service members who have distinguished themselves by gallantry in action above and beyond the call of duty. The Medal of Honor flag commemorates the sacrifice and bloodshed for our freedoms, and gives emphasis to the Medal of Honor being the highest award for valor by an individual serving in the armed forces of the United States. The light blue color with gold fringe bearing 13 white stars are adapted from the Medal of Honor ribbon. The Medal of Honor plaque will now be unveiled inducting Captain Taylor into the Hall of Heroes. At this time, please direct your attention to the screens as a soldier unveils Captain Taylor’s name on the Medal of Honor Garden Wall at the National Museum of the United States Army. Thank you Secretary Austin, Secretary Wormuth, General Milly, General George, and Sergeant Major Weimer. Ladies and gentlemen, Captain Larry L. Taylor.

Captain Larry L. Taylor (40:39):

Good morning or almost good afternoon. I think ever since I was a little boy, I would always dream one day having a medal on, and today that dream came true. I’ve thought long and hard about that night over and over, and I don’t know what we could have done to made it any better. We didn’t lose a man, and everybody we came with went home with us except few of you had gone. But I appreciate it. I do. This is a great honor for me and my family, and I can’t read that anyway. I’d ask if there are any questions, but I’m afraid I couldn’t answer them and I’d just looked more stupid. But thank you all for coming. I appreciate that. This is the greatest day ever, the best ever.

So I thank you and I just want to salute you for coming. Please sit down. I really hadn’t prepared anything to say because I thought for sure I’d faint before I could say anything, but you just don’t know how much this means to me. And people ask me about that night, “What possessed you to do that?” And “Well, hell it needed doing.” And they said, “You’re insane, aren’t you?” And I said, “Well, Cobra pilots are a little weird anyway.” But we all pulled together and the four guys on the ground, they’re part of the team too, and they’ve become lifelong friends.

And hell, I don’t know what else to say. I’d entertain questions from my audience, but I don’t know. I appreciate you coming and thank you so very much. You ready?

I wanted to fly because I had been on the ground in Vietnam, and that sucked. So I wanted to avoid all of that, and I did, except for the few times I got shot down, I was on the ground for a while. This was the cockpit of an old Bee Model UA, which had a crew of four and all kinds of doors that opened. That’s what we flew until we got the Cobra’s. The Cobra was 36 inches wide, and that was in the cockpit, that’s the rear seat of a Cobra. And that would cruise at 240 miles an hour. The Vietnamese had a saying, and it says, “Don’t shoot the skinny ones. Don’t shoot at the skinny ones.” Meaning the Cobra. In the Cobra, you could set your controls over [inaudible 00:46:48], you could descend [inaudible 00:46:48] on the ground in about 80 seconds, which was exciting.

We operated as far south as Vung Tau and as far north as Bu Dop, which was about a hundred miles north and south over to Tai Nan, which was about 75 miles or maybe 80 miles east and west. We were responsible for everything in that area of operation. The typical mission was either reconnaissance, where you would go out with another Cobra and two scout helicopters, and they would fly around and beat the grass and try to find the enemy. And the other missions were scrambles. When the horn goes off, you’ve got two minutes to get that helicopter in the air and en route to the target. Of the 1200 combat missions I flew, more than a thousand involved long range reconnaissance patrols that the Rangers ran, and these were just go out in the jungle for a while by themselves, and they would smack Charlie in the nose and then they would call us and say, “Okay, come get us.” No, we were sitting there minding our own business thinking, I was hoping that we don’t get called tonight. And bam, the horn went off. I knew a frequency and I knew a direction, and it was Wildcat 2. Well, this was a team of LRPs that were controlled by Bob Elsner. Bob was either a Sergeant E-7 or a Private, depending on who he had smarted off to. That night he was a Private.

And he said, “Well, we’re in a rice patty in a village south of Ab Go Cong, and there’s probably a 100 people in here with us.” I said, “Okay, let’s go down and see what we can find.” So I located him with my radio beacon and flew over him and he said, “Okay, you’re right, directly overhead.” He said, “Can you provide some artillery?” And I said, “No, not really, Bob, because I don’t know where I am and I don’t know what the coordinates are, but I know what the coordinates of that village are. I’ll call and get some magnesium parachute flares over that village and it’ll light up, and I’ll come down low level and scoot across the ground and everything will be back lit.”

So that’s what we did. And we turned loose 152 rockets and 16,000 rounds of mini gun. They were still outnumbered, 15 to one, maybe 16 to one. And I said, “Bob, do you have any Claymore mines?” And he said, “Yes, got four.” And I said, “Well, you’re completely surrounded and I want you to point two of your Claymore mines to the north, two on 135 degree [inaudible 00:50:37]. And when I say blow them, you blow them and run like we’re going to blow a hole in that ring.” And then the tactical operations center said, “No, you don’t pick them up. They’re trained to escape and evade.” And I said, “There’s no place for them to escape and evade. Dude, please stay off my radio.” So I said, “You ready, Bob?” He said, “Ready.”

So we went down, I shut out all the lights and landed in the dark. They were running in the direction they were supposed to run, but I noticed that only three of them were running. One of them kept lagging. They were out of ammunition. So he had a bag of grenades, and he would drop back about every 50 feet and throw grenades at the North Vietnamese regulars, and then he would run another 50 or 60 feet and throw more grenades. And finally, we all arrived at the same hole in the mud and they jumped on. And the patrol leader Bob, and the man in front was Gerald Petty from Maryville, Tennessee. They jumped on and smacked the side of the ship, and then Billy Khan and Dave Hill jumped on the rocket pod and slapped the canopy. So I had the lights out and I just pulled the pitch and went up to a 1500-foot hover.

I called my copilot who sits right in front of you. And he said, “We’ve got them.” He said, “What are you going to do with them, sir?” I said, ” What do you want to do with them, we can’t take them home, they’ll freeze to death before we get them there,” because they’re sopping wet and you fly them at 150 miles an hour, they’d lose grip and fall off. He says, “Let’s take them down to the water treatment plants. It’s about three minutes down the river. We’ll drop them off inside the fence and then we’ll go home.” He said, “But be advised we got a 20-minute fuel light that’s on.” “Okay,” I said, “How long has it been on?” He said, “About five minutes.” I said, “All right. So we’re going to make a 25- minute flight on 20 minutes worth of fuel.” He said, “In essence.” I said, “Okay.”

So I landed and I used a light because I’d never been in there before. And they all rolled off and ran to the front of the ship and got out from under the rotter blade, and they went to the fence and they all turned around, which means, “We’re okay, thank you.” But that’s what we did. We took care of the LRPs and the Rangers.

Speaker 3 (54:14):

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. David Hill.

David Hill (54:26):

It’s been a pleasure. Larry asked me to do this, to address you, tell a little story of Larry Taylor, but also the excellent division, the first division that we served in, both of us. All the gentlemen here, berets on the right side, all the aviators and fellows with the cavalry hats, we were the Big Red One. When you’re a commander like Larry that’s in a battle, long for many higher headquarters or from any superior officers, you’re in the arena, decisions are yours, you got to live with them right or wrong. We all received that mission when we first got to the Big Red One, and it had been the mission statement, if you will, of the Big Red One for many decades. We got to Vietnam, you walked under a portal, an archway at Xeon, Division Headquarters at that time. And then across the top of it is Big Red One’s motto, mantra, however, I think to me it represents more with the military calls, the sense of the commander.

If you’re cut off from communications, if your battle plan changes and you have to adapt because the enemy also gets a vote, you know what to fall back on since your commanding general is telling his colonels, his majors, his captains, lieutenants on down the line, what they’re to do. And ours is very distinctive, no mission too difficult, no sacrifice too great, duty first. Simple message, very straightforward, not something you’re going to forget. From the trenches of World War I and the city of Cantini, France, the first assault on the German forces was by our 28th regiment. They became known as the Black Lions of Cantini for that. They next appeared in Europe, having come from South Africa and Sicily to a place on the Normandy coast, a bloody place. In fact, the name of the beach was Easy Red on a beach called Omaha. Lost many men. They made it up through the causeway on top and continued inland to the mission, to their assignments.

When Larry Taylor and myself and my teammates arrived in Vietnam, our terrain would be rice patties, and jungle, bamboo, elephant grass, which if you didn’t have your sleeves down it would cut you. So it’s a different terrain, but it was still the Big Red One. No mission too difficult, no sacrifice too great, duty first. For Captain Taylor, there was no confusion, no lack of clarity as to what laid before him and what he needed to do. He came into that fight with two primary tools to win it, to save our team. He had a lot of rockets, he had a lot of mini gun ammunition, and he had an incredibly swift, powerful, versatile and agile helicopter, brand new in the first division inventory, the AH1G Cobra and he would use it to great effect.

So over the course of the fight, later in the fight, he started to run out of ammunition. He started to run out of fuel. And he started thinking, as any good commander did, Well, I’ve just lost two of my primary tools, what do I have left? I haven’t run out of options, they’re just fewer. I have a tremendous aircraft, taking battle damage, but still flyable. I can do something. We’re not going to win this fight, obviously, and I can no longer help the team survive, who also were out of ammunition. We were tapped out. We had our Kabar knives and that was it. And I happened to have a few grenades to throw still. So Larry Taylor, he did what I think a good commanders do, he said, “When you’re up against it, you need to keep thinking the solution’s there. Go ahead. Go ahead with that decision, commit yourself.” And if it doesn’t work, there’s always another idea. You never give up. The team’s not going to give up and I’m not going to give up on them.

Larry’s own motto is leave no man behind, in his case, leave no man on the ground. He knew if he left, we wouldn’t be there, not alive. So Captain Taylor was guided both by the first divisions message motto, mantra, however you want to characterize it, as well as his own. And he stayed faithful to both of them simultaneously. “So I’m going in,” he was told not to. And he said, “Sorry.” He changed an alternate channel, talked only to our team leader, Paul Elsner. He then proceeded to do so. He figured if he could land near us, we were rangers, we’re versatile, we could figure it out, we were also pretty desperate. And he was right, of course. He had no time to train us on the jump seat that’s actually part of the ammo bay door on a Cobra, and there wouldn’t have been any time to find it and it was, as was said, it was inkwell dark.

So he thought, I got to deliver those guys from the battle since I can’t win it and I’m not going to lose and lose them. And he did. His actions that night, he had received our nation’s third highest medal, the Silver Star Medal. We looked at that though and said there are a number of silver stars awarded. There’s distinction between what the gentleman that won those did, not won, wrong term, that received those and what he did. It’s just a matter of stacking. And it was beyond the next level, which is Distinguished Service Cross so we’re going to go for the big one. It should have happened 55 years ago, but it didn’t. But again, Captain Taylor never gave up on us and it’s incumbent on me to do something about it. By this time, I was the only surviving member of the long range patrol team. I’d been the rear security and assistant team leader. We lost Paul, excuse me. We lost Billy Kahn and his entire team on October 21, 1968. The other two gentlemen, Elsner and Patty died of cancer back in 2010, 2015. So what I had to do, basically is fallback on a very key part of what’s known as a Ranger code, excuse me, the Ranger Creed. And it reads, “Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight onto the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor.” That means a lot to me just as Larry Taylor’s actions do. We formed a team, we call it the cross country team, myself in Nevada and all the other folks in Chattanooga, Tennessee. At first under retired Major General Bill Rains, gave us an office, gave us a staff, gave us telephones and a place to meet whenever I was in town. But the message is clear also, he says, “This is your mission. I’ll support you. I’ll help you. I’ll bring some other people in to be part of the team. But it’s your job and you can’t delegate that away.”

I had no intention to, but the message was clear and that’s just what he did, he supported us. We rebuffed a number of times. The Army’s very exacting. Medal of Honor is such a high level thing that things have to be perfect and it’s well covered about regulations. At first we had difficult in being able to comply with some of the requirements. But finally, general BB Bell joined the team, brought with it his inspiration and getting us moving forward again. We felt like we were in the red zone, but we weren’t going over the goal line. General Bell pushed us over the goal line. We’d looked at language that the Army required. We finally found the answer they were seeking. Once we did it, after all those years, in two weeks it was completed. They had done their job all along and rebuffing the earlier ones because we didn’t fulfill the requirements. So anyways, it finally got done. So our mission is with regard to getting Larry Taylor the Medal of Honor is now completed and I thank all of you for sharing this event with us on this.

I ask only that you as an American, particularly you as a troop commander or as a business leader, to tell Captain Taylor’s story in order to inspire your men, your employees, your subordinates, the men you lead, look to Larry Taylor’s style of leadership. You got good people, keep them because you paid a lot to get them in the company. You paid a lot to get them in the United States military. You inspire them forward and they know if they do the job, they will be going up the line. This ends this part of the ceremony today, but Captain Larry L. Taylor’s story will never end so long as we repeat it. Thank you.

Speaker 3 (01:05:56):

Ladies and gentlemen, please remain standing and join in the singing of the Army Song. The Words to the Army song can be found in your program. (singing) This concludes the Medal of Honor induction ceremony. Please remain standing for the departure of the official party. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us for today’s ceremony honoring Captain Taylor. Thank you for attending and enjoy the rest of your day.

[inaudible 01:08:33].

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