Ronald Scott Taylor – Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army

 Army Officer Rallied Troops In Vietnam At Great Risk

Ronald Scott Taylor, 64, a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran who became a lawyer in the Justice Department’s criminal division, died January 18, 2009, at the Department of Veterans Affairs nursing home in Washington.

He had complications from diabetes as a result of exposure to Agent Orange during the war, his family said.

Colonel Taylor, a native of Arlington County and a graduate of Wakefield High School there, graduated from Virginia Tech in 1966 and was commissioned into the Army as an infantry officer. He served two combat tours in Vietnam with the 1st Cavalry Division and the Military Advisory Command.

At the start of the Tet Offensive in January 1968, Colonel (then First Lieutenant) Taylor’s unit was heavily engaged with the enemy in the Que Son Valley. His platoon was encircled by a North Vietnamese army regiment that repeatedly tried to overrun it.

During a 26-hour fight, 20 of his 50 men were wounded. Colonel Taylor was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross — the military’s highest award for valor after the Medal of Honor — for rallying his men while constantly exposing himself to the enemy fusillade, moving from position to position and calling for and adjusting a concentrated ring of more than 7,000 rounds of friendly artillery fire.

After leaving active duty, Colonel Taylor served in the Army Reserve and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. He graduated from the University of Virginia law school in 1975 and worked at the Justice Department for four years.

He received a master’s degree in business administration from Stanford University in 1981.

He worked as president of Flagship Federal Savings and Loan in San Diego in 1979, then became associate director at the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp. from 1983 to 1986.

Colonel Taylor spent the rest of his federal career as a lawyer with the Justice Department’s criminal division in Washington. He retired on disability in 2001.

Survivors include his wife of 40 years, Le Thu Taylor of Falls Church; his mother, Ruth Taylor of Woodstock, Virginia; and two brothers, Robert Parks Taylor of Arlington and Kevin Taylor of Aldie.

Headquarters, U.S. Army, Vietnam, General Orders No. 4093 (August 23, 1968)


The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Ronald S. Taylor (0-5237610), First Lieutenant (Infantry), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Company C, 2d Battalion, 12th Cavalry, 3d Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.

First Lieutenant Taylor distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 7 January 1968 as acting executive officer of his company during a mission in the Que Son Valley.

His unit became engaged in heavy fighting with a reinforced North Vietnamese battalion. As the battle developed, Lieutenant Taylor, and an element of fifty men became surrounded by the hostile forces. He immediately made two attempts to break the enemy encirclement, but both were driven back. Lieutenant Taylor then ordered his men, twenty of whom were already wounded, into a hasty defensive perimeter.

Constantly exposing himself to the continuing enemy fusillade, he moved from position to position as he called for and adjusted a ring of friendly artillery fire around the location of his troops. The determined enemy repeatedly assaulted the defenders, attempting to overrun them. Each attack was successfully repulsed by Lieutenant Taylor’s skillful adjustment of coordinated artillery barrages and the small arms and automatic weapons fire of his men. For more than twenty six hours he successfully directed the defense of the position inflicting heavy casualties on the North Vietnamese foe.

First Lieutenant Taylor’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

Ronald Scott Taylor, Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army (retired) on Sunday, January 18, 2009, at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Husband of Le Thu Taylor; brother of Robert P. Taylor and Kevin D. Taylor. He was the son of Ruth E. Taylor and the late Cecil H. Taylor.

Graveside services and interment will be held on Tuesday, February 10, 2009 at 1 p.m. at Arlington National Cemetery.

The family suggests memorial contributions be made to the U.S. Soldier’s and Airmen’s Home, Rock Creek Church Road., N.W., Washington, DC 20001.

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