Today, Army Captain (Ret.) Larry Taylor was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Joseph Biden during a ceremony alongside Army personnel and Bell officials to honor his heroic and life-saving actions while flying a Bell AH-1G during the Vietnam War.
Larry Taylor, photo courtesy of U.S. Army’s Medal of Honor
“Taylor’s selfless actions as a Bell AH-1G pilot were performed well-beyond the call of duty,” said Army Major General (Ret.) Jeffrey Schloesser, executive vice president of Strategic Pursuits, Bell. “Bell is elated to honor his profound service and sacrifice.”
The Medal of Honor is the highest military award for valor in the U.S. that is presented by the president in Congress’ name. Approximately 3,517 veterans have been awarded the Medal of Honor for their heroic actions. Taylor is the newest Medal of Honor recipient who now also joins eight of those personnel awarded for their actions while operating Bell aircraft.
“The courage that Taylor illuminated was not only remarkable, but also highlights the significant aerial mobility and reliability of the Bell H-1 line that gets troops to where they need to be during tactical operations,” said Michael Deslatte, senior vice president and program director, Bell H-1 program.
The Bell AH-1G, also commonly known in the Army as the ‘Cobra’ or ‘HueyCobra’, gained popularity for its iconic presence as one of the premier attack helicopters during the Vietnam War.
The June 18, 1968 Mission – Near AP Go Cong, Bình Dương Province, Republic of Vietnam
Bell AH-1G, similar to the aircraft that Taylor flew
On June 18, 1968, then-First Lieutenant Taylor, team leader of a helicopter light-fire team, received an urgent radio call from the long-range reconnaissance patrol (LRRP) – “We’re surrounded!”
The LRRPs were being attacked by gunfire and quickly becoming surrounded by the enemy force. Fully aware of the danger, Taylor started up the Bell AH-1G, and flew straight into the battle zone.
Upon arrival, Taylor was faced with intense enemy gunfire. After completing low-attack runs for nearly 45-minutes, the Bell AH-1G was running low on fuel and ammunition. At that moment, Taylor learned that the extract of the four LRRPs was cancelled due to the intensity of enemy gunfire. Taylor refused to accept that fate.
Taylor devised a plan to extract the four LRRPs himself – a mission that has never been attempted while using the two-seater Bell AH-1G.
Using the Bell AH-1G’s landing lights to distract the enemy, the LRRPs quickly ran to the extraction point that Taylor designed. As the LRRPs reached the designed site, Taylor landed the Bell AH-1G where two of the LRRPs quickly grabbed onto the rocket pods while the other two clung to the skids. Taylor then proceeded to successfully fly all four men to a safe location.
Over five decades after his courageous actions, Bell continues to celebrate Taylor’s regard for his fellow soldiers and going above the call of duty as a Bell AH-1 pilot.
One of the First Cobra Pilots in History
Upon joining the Army, Taylor was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, one of the Army’s first Cobra companies in Vietnam. It is estimated that he completed over 2,000 missions as a Bell AH-1G and Bell UH-1 pilot, engaging with enemy fire 340 times.
Larry Taylor in a Bell UH-1 “Huey” helicopter, photo by Lewis D. Ray
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