The 2009 Congressional Medal of Honor Convention was one to be remembered for James Allen Taylor, one of the attending Medal recipients. The Convention, held in Chicago, Ill. for its 51st edition, was intended to bring Medal of Honor recipients together for a week of engaging activities and gratitude.
For this gathering, over 50 recipients of the Medal of Honor were in attendance, coming from their respective homes in the U.S. to meet with other supporters. Each Medal recipient was escorted by an active duty service member — truly an honor for these soldiers who hold the honorees in such high esteem.
James Allen Taylor was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor during his service to the United States Amy from 1956-1980. Taylor served during the Vietnam War, and his actions during heavy enemy attack and fire were what eventually earned him the highest military designation.
Taylor was a First Lieutenant in Vietnam in 1967 when he and his compatriots came under heavy attack in Que Son. Taylor repeatedly exposed himself to heavy fire to help extract fellow soldiers from the vehicle they’d been in, which had been debilitated and was in danger of explosion. Not only did Taylor rescue these soldiers, but he continued to stop to help others who’d been hit during the perilous journey back to camp. Even though he was wounded in this exchange, he continued to place himself in the line of fire to ensure the safety of his fellow soldiers. In total, Lt. Taylor rescued wounded men from three separate burning vehicles.
In 1968, Taylor was promoted to Captain and awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Now, over 40 years later Taylor was warmly welcomed at the airport with a fire hose salute and a standing ovation from patrons in the terminal. Indeed, his true heroics deserved such a tribute.
Mr. Taylor was escorted during the Convention by First Class Andy Yoshimura, a 416th Theater Engineer Command Soldier. Together with the other medal recipients in attendance, Taylor and his military escort were treated to the Chicago sights. This included a memorial service at the Fourth Presbyterian Church, held in honor of the Medal recipients who had passed away that year.
The event also featured a Finishing Off with a Patriot Award Dinner, which was emceed by Gary Sinise. This was a black tie event that was sold out, as many civilians wished to have the opportunity to pay their respects and tributes in person.
Perhaps the highlight of the trip for Capt. Taylor, he said, was the Public Outreach Event held at Paul Revere Accelerated Middle School. “I really enjoy talking to young students who will be our future leaders,” he commented. “Just talking to the kids is an enjoyment to what I do.”
And Capt. Taylor continues to exhibit humility, even in consideration of his heroics. When asked what the receiving of the Congressional Medal of Honor mean to him, he simply said, “On any day during any time, a true soldier will do what I have done.”