KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A parade was held to honor an East Tennessee native and University of Tennessee Knoxville graduate who was awarded the Medal of Honor.
Vietnam veteran Captain Larry Lowe Taylor officially received the Medal of Honor during a ceremony at the White House on September 5. Taylor was a Cobra helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War and distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity.
The Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center partnered with Hamilton County, the City of Chattanooga and the Chattanooga Area Veterans Council to hold the special Patriot Day and “Welcome Home” Parade on September 11 at 11:30 a.m. in honor of Taylor.
“The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest medal for valor in combat, and we are honored that another Chattanoogan will receive the Medal of Honor in the coming days,” said Colonel Frank Hughes (USMC, Ret), chairman for the board of trustees at the Heritage Center. “Captain Larry Taylor’s Medal of Honor action is a story of someone who truly distinguished himself with courage and bravery with no regard for his own safety to ensure no man was left behind. We look forward to honoring him and sharing his story of courage and commitment with a new exhibit at the Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center.”
On the night of June 18, 1968, Taylor rescued four soldiers who were surrounded by North Vietnamese by landing his helicopter in the middle of the firefight and lifting the soldiers out of the fight to a safer location. The soldiers rescued on that night were David Hill of Visalia, Calif.; Robert Elsner of New York City; Gerald Patty of Maryville, Tenn.; and William P. Cohn of Norwich, Conn.
He was first awarded the Silver Star for his actions that night. President Joe Biden has upgraded that award to a Medal of Honor. Taylor will become the 33rd person from Tennessee and the 6th soldier with ties to the Chattanooga area to receive the award.
The UT alumnus served in the military for four years. With the 1st Squadron, 4th U.S. Cavalry and 1st Infantry Division, Taylor flew well over 2,000 combat missions in the UH-1 and Cobra helicopters. He was awarded 61 combat decorations, including 44 Air Medals, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, two Bronze Stars, and four Distinguished Flying Crosses. Following his time in the military, Taylor operated a roofing and sheet metal company in Chattanooga. He also remained active in several veterans’ organizations. Now retired, Tayor and his wife live in Signal Mountain.
After receiving the Medal of Honor, Taylor returned to Chattanooga where the special Patriot Day and “Welcome Home” Parade was held in his honor on September 11 at 11:30 a.m. The parade featured a special flyover of multiple Vietnam-era Cobra and other modern-day helicopters. The Commanding General’s Mounted Color Guard and the 1st Infantry Division Band along with several high school bands, JROTC units, and ROTC units from nearby universities will participate in the parade.
“Chattanooga is the Birthplace of the Medal of Honor, and I encourage everyone to bring their children downtown on September 11 and line Market Street to help honor Larry Taylor as a true American hero and help celebrate the important heritage of the Medal of Honor whose birthplace, like Captain Larry Taylor, is right here in Chattanooga, Tennessee,” said General BB Bell, chairman of the National Advisory Board at the Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center.
Chattanooga Mayor Kelly said, “What a privilege to have in our midst one of America’s living heroes worthy of the Medal of Honor, our country’s highest award for military valor in action. Let’s come together to celebrate and recognize one of our own and put Chattanooga’s famous spirit of patriotism on full display as we honor Medal of Honor recipient Captain Larry Taylor on September 11th.”
Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp continued, “I am humbled to serve as County Mayor as we honor the county’s first Medal of Honor recipient in more than seven decades. There is no greater role model to represent the values of Hamilton County than legendary Vietnam veteran Larry Taylor, whose valor as a Cobra pilot is finally being appropriately recognized. All residents of Hamilton County should take great pride in sharing this once-in-a-lifetime celebration with our hometown hero.”
The parade ended with an official ceremony in front of the Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, where Medal of Honor recipient Leroy Petry and other dignitaries will make remarks. A temporary exhibit on Taylor at the heritage center was unveiled after the parade.