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Join us in Welcoming Home Larry Taylor!

The Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center (Heritage Center) is working with Hamilton County, the City of Chattanooga and the Chattanooga Area Veterans Council to hold a special Patriot Day and “Welcome Home” Parade to honor Army Captain Larry L. Taylor, a native of the city and an American war hero. 

The parade will officially start at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, September 11, and will conclude with a public ceremony at 1 p.m. where local, state and national dignitaries will make comments honoring Larry Taylor and his heroic act of valor on June 18, 1968, during the Vietnam War. 

The public is encouraged to attend the ceremony and the event should conclude no later than 2 p.m., with a closed media briefing with all dignitaries to be held after the ceremony concludes. 

 

For additional information on submitting a parade entry, interested parties should contact Parade Coordinator Bill Norton by email at bill@metroservicesinc.com.   The media who plan to cover the parade or attend the public ceremony are encouraged to register their attendance by contacting Mary Francis Hoots at mhoots@hamiltontn.gov.

Read the Story

“The rain was falling, the night was thickening with clouds and machinegun fire, and the men on the ground would all be dead in minutes. Taylor, his gunner, and his wing team would all be watching the slaughter helplessly in the flare-light splashing the rice paddy.”

“There was just one chance. It had to be taken. He didn’t hesitate.”

– Bob Cutts, Stars and Stripes, 1968

First CollageVietnam

“Want me to take ’em back?”

June 18, 1968, then 1st Lieutenant Larry Taylor raced across the lush Vietnamese landscape in his AH-1G Cobra attack helicopter. With time limited and the mission critical, a beleaguered Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) struggled to fend off incessant, and overwhelming, enemy assaults. 1st Lieutenant Taylor, his co-pilot J.O. Ratliff, and his wingman Captain Roger Trickler, arrived at a scene of total chaos and immediately set out to provide much-needed fire support. The new AH-1Gs began expending their arsenals which raked against the forefront of the enemy onslaught and drove them to cover. Continuous and deadly fire rained from the choppers’ miniguns and rocket pods as the four members of Team Wildcat 2 on the ground regrouped and bolstered their defenses. The two Cobras, Dark Horse 32, hammered the tree line, but the flickering lights of their muzzle flash eventually gave way to darkness and the ominous glow of flares. Reinforcements remained out of range and the now silenced aerial bombardment piqued the enemy’s curiosity. Though the Cobras daringly swooped towards the now encouraged Viet Cong, it became clear that this was the last stand. Undeterred and with complete disregard for his own safety 1st Lieutenant Larry Taylor alerted Team Wildcat 2 to move to an extraction point he had chosen nearby. Guided by 1st Lieutenant Taylor’s landing light, the LRRPs made their way to the landing zone as the AH-1G bore the brunt of incoming enemy fire. Ten days earlier, 1st Lieutenant Taylor had undertaken a very similar mission: the extraction of a LRRP team while under heavy enemy fire. Yet in this instance a medical evacuation helicopter extracted the soldiers while Taylor provided devastating covering fire. For this action, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (one of four over the course of his service). Hovering above Team Wildcat 2, 1st Lieutenant Larry Taylor had no evacuation ship to defend and no passenger space aboard the sleek gunship to board the exhausted men. Regardless, Taylor landed the Cobra and directed the unit to grab ahold of whatever they could. With one final gnashing of teeth from Trickler’s Cobra to cover the action, the ground team clutched onto the rocket pods and struts of the battered AH-1G. With deft, yet gentle, piloting, 1st Lieutenant Taylor lifted the entirety of Team Wildcat 2 from the rice paddy and away from the spitting trees which sent red hot venom chasing after them.

LRRP Team Extracted by Cobra Gunship by Darren Hostetter ©

Low and slow, the Cobra sailed over the lush Vietnamese landscape, this time with additional occupants safely aboard. With direction from another helicopter, 1st Lieutenant Taylor landed at a water plant five miles away from what would have been a decidedly sober scene. That is if 1st Lieutenant Larry Taylor had not gone above and beyond in the line of duty.

The original award bestowed upon the pilot for this action was the Silver Star, a medal which joined a litany of other decorations including the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, two Bronze Stars, four Distinguished Flying Crosses, 44 Air Medals, among others over the course of his career. Over 50 years later, this daring feat is now recognized as deserving of the nation’s highest award for military valor; the Medal of Honor. A medal whose birthplace, like Captain Larry Taylor, is right here in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

(image: “Incident: LRRP Team Extracted by Cobra Gunship,” Darren Hostetter ©)

Second Collage First Draft smallerChattanooga

Birthplace of the Medal of Honor

Born on February 12, 1942, to Mr. and Mrs. Robert Lee Taylor, Larry grew up in the St. Elmo neighborhood of Chattanooga. Nestled below Lookout Mountain, St. Elmo was across the city from where Larry finished out his secondary school education at Chattanooga High School. Now the Chattanooga School for the Arts & Sciences, Chattanooga High School had a particularly notable alum in its ranks by the time Larry attended in the early sixties. Charles H. Coolidge, graduated from the school in 1939, and would a few years later earn the Medal of Honor during WWII as a Technical Sergeant in the U.S. Army. With no expectation to aspire to such a feat, Larry Taylor led a quintessential and academically impressive life as an American student in postwar United States.

In 1960 during his junior year, Larry was on that season’s successful wrestling team and was in the ROTC program on the drill team, not to mention his participation in the Harvest Festival. Larry frequently made his way into the Chattanooga Daily Times during his time in high school. His involvement in ROTC became more central to his extracurricular experience as the drill team participated in various events around the city. By his senior year in 1961, Larry had become a Cadet Captain and was in command of the drill team. He had also joined the Senior Choir and had been voted “Best Dressed” in his class, the latter item having also made its way into the local paper.

After graduation, Taylor attended the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and continued his time in ROTC. Following his graduation in 1966 Taylor was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and assigned to an armor unit. With some consideration, Larry decided that he preferred aerial machinery. Taylor found himself amid the Vietnam War a short time later.

Third Collage Second Draft

 

The Medal of Honor

“I was just doing my job.”

The process to upgrade Captain Larry Taylor’s Silver Star to the Medal of Honor has been years long and hard fought. Several of Captain Taylor’s supporters felt that the extent of the pilot’s gallantry had been overlooked upon initial commendation in 1968. Through numerous filings and refilings, particularly over the last few years, these supporters lobbied military and government officials to have the action reevaluated.

With each new attempt to appeal came new challenges. Upon filing, supporters were required to supply new evidence to officials. This necessitated further research, including interviews of firsthand accounts, and the writing of appeals which were gathered, refined, and resubmitted. Finally, thanks to the indomitable spirit and hard work of these individuals, many of them Chattanoogans, the pleas for full recognition and commendation were heard.

On Tuesday, September 5, 2023, during a ceremony at the White House, surrounded by family, friends, and fellow servicemen Captain Larry Taylor would receive one of our nation’s highest awards for military valor, The Medal of Honor. The National Medal of Honor Heritage Center congratulates Captain Larry Taylor and thanks him for serving our nation.

Watch the Ceremony at the White House

“On September 5, 2023, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., will award the Medal of Honor to Captain Larry L. Taylor, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry.

Captain Taylor was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The Medal of Honor is awarded to members of the Armed Forces who distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their own lives above and beyond the call of duty…”

Watch the Hall of Heroes Ceremony


“Former Army Capt. Larry L. Taylor is inducted into the Medal of Honor Hall of Heroes during a ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va. During the Vietnam War, Taylor flew over 2,000 combat missions as a helicopter pilot. On June 18, 1968, he rescued a four-man patrol team at significant risk to his own life.”

Watch the Hall of Heroes Induction Ceremony

Listen to Larry

Join News Channel 9’s Josh Roe in a special interview with Captain Larry Taylor and learn more about the soon-to-be recipient’s story from the man himself.

Interview with Larry Taylor

Gallery

Explore the stories of the nation’s highest award for military valor in the birthplace of the Medal of Honor.

Helicopter Silhouette

Learn more about the Tennesseans who earned the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War.

Rice Paddy Silhouette scaled