September 6, 2023

The White House Medal of Honor Ceremony for Larry Taylor

“I told my men, ‘You never leave a man on the ground,’ and we never did.”

“The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.” —Patrick Henry (1775)

Some days are more interesting than others, while some are truly memorable.

This week, being in the East Room for Larry Taylor’s Medal of Honor award ceremony and East Wing reception would fall into the latter category. What follows are some impressions of those events.

The word “hero” is too often grossly misapplied by those, especially in the media, who don’t have any context for what it actually means. Military members and veterans reject being called “heroes” for answering the call to serve our nation. First responders are ubiquitously called “heroes” and also reject that description. Though some have done heroic things, putting on a uniform does not make you a hero.

Never before was misuse of “hero” as prolific as during the ChiCom Virus pandemic, when we were inundated with “hero” proclamations, including plastic yard signs in front of homes occupied by those in the medical profession noting, “A Hero Lives Here.” Actually, not.

But in the case of Capt. Larry Taylor, the word “hero” as a reference to his valorous actions, is understated, and perhaps learning about his actions will help better define the word for those who misuse it.

To be clear, this event was not about the president, it was about an amazing Patriot warrior a year older than Joe Biden. But given the proximity of this celebration of valor to the anniversary date of the most disgraceful military exfiltration since Vietnam, Biden’s surrender and retreat from Afghanistan, the “irony” of his presence, and that of the two commanders who executed that exfil — Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley — was unavoidable in a room full of American Patriots. )Clearly they don’t share Larry’s standard for never leaving anyone behind.)

In July 2023, the upgrade of Larry Taylor’s Silver Star to a Medal of Honor was approved, and the award was officially made on Tuesday. Because Larry is a deeply humble man, he would never have advocated for his own recognition. Thus, the upgrade effort was led by Gen. B.B. Bell (USA-Ret.), Advisory Board chairman of the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, and Dave Hill, the last surviving member of the patrol team Larry saved that deadly night 55 years ago.

When notified of the Medal upgrade, Larry responded simply, “I thought you had to do something to receive the Medal of Honor.”

I have known Larry for 20 years, but yesterday was my first opportunity to meet Dave Hill. While these guys are a few years older than they were in the prime of their war-fighting days, they both still have plenty of badass in their bones.

Larry’s Medal of Honor citation notes:

First Lieutenant Larry L. Taylor distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Troop Delta, 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry, 1st Infantry Division on June 18th, 1968, near the village of Ap Go Cong, 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 Viet Cong force. He immediately requested illumination rounds and supporting artillery to assist with identifying the enemy positions. Despite intense enemy groundfire, 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 over 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 Ap Go Cong, 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 ground 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 them 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.

For a much more detailed account of that night from Larry and Dave, read the Profiles of Valor post, “Larry Taylor: Medal of Honor, Pending.”

Perhaps the most moving moment of the day was when Larry shed a tear once the Medal was awarded.

Bravo Zulu, Larry! And thank you, Dave and B.B., for ensuring Larry’s valorous actions were finally properly recognized! (Watch Larry’s remarks and formal induction into the Hall of Heroes today.)

Regarding long overdue recognition for valorous actions, it was a privilege to meet for the first time MoH recipient Col. Paris Davis, who we profiled in March, when he was finally recognized for actions 58 years earlier. Again, these individuals are, by nature, humble warriors, and these lengthy delays are often the result of a lack of advocacy.

In fact, we believe the next two award recipients may be Charles Shadrack and George Wilson, members of Andrew’s Raiders who have yet to be recognized posthumously for their actions in 1862. Those actions resulted in the first Medal of Honor awards in our nation’s history to other members of the Raiders.

Of other impressions…

Joe Biden appeared far more frail in person than I anticipated. The East Room is small and personal, and though Larry is contending with a life-threatening illness and walks with a cane, Biden entered the room with Taylor assisting him on one side while a staff member held Biden’s arm on the other.

As is typical, Biden fumbled through his teleprompted script, struggling with the names of other recipients present. He also strained to close the Medal of Honor ribbon around Larry’s neck as is tradition.

Notably, notwithstanding his reinstated White House masking rule (though none of us present were in masks) after he was exposed to the latest strain of COVID, Biden removed his own mask despite the fact that he was in immediate proximity face-to-face, with Larry. And he shook hands with Larry several times – violating basic safety measures anyone should take when with a person who has severe comorbidity factors for viral infections.

Biden then abruptly left the room before the closing benediction, and he was not present at the reception. This disrespectful breach of etiquette resulted in immediate protests from Veterans nationwide. Attempting to deflect criticism, Biden’s spinperson Karine Jean-Pierre claimed her boss “left when there was a pause in the program in order to minimize his close contact with attendees” because of the COVID risk. But he had already exposed the most vulnerable person in the room. Clearly, Biden did not want “close contact” with the Patriots in this room because that could result in some unflattering questions or comments in front of the media.

Jean-Pierre then claimed, “Before the event started, the president spent a good amount of time with the captain and his family.” That is not true – he did pass through the room they were in, say hello to them and sign the proclamation. There’s an old adage, “When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging,” but lying dog-faced pony soldiers are compulsive diggers.

Not only would Biden like to “minimize contact” with those who have strongly condemned him for enabling Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, his empowerment of Red China, and moreover, his deadly retreat and surrender in Afghanistan, but he now also breaking tradition for Monday’s solemn observance of the 9/11 Islamist attack on our nation. Instead of going to one of the three attack sites, he will be vacationing in Alaska.

Regarding Biden’s profound ineptitude as president and his fitness for another term, I wrote a year ago what to me seemed obvious at the time: “It’s Official — Biden Will (NOT) Be the Demo Nominee in 2024.” That assessment now seems apparent even to Democrats, so we wait to see who Biden will hand the baton to either before or after the primaries.

Finally, I have been in the White House several times for presidential events, but the last time I was there to celebrate a great president was at the end of Ronald Reagan’s second term. However, the ceremony honoring Larry was every bit as inspiring!

(Please support the National Medal of Honor Sustaining Fund with a designated gift through Patriot Foundation Trust, or make a check payable to Liberty Fund (noting MoH Sustaining Fund on the memo line), and mail it to Patriot Foundation Trust, PO Box 407, Chattanooga, TN 37401-0407.)

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776


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