L-175 apprentice receives Bronze Star

Bronze Star recipient Ryan Taylor (r.) receives congratulations from his father, Floyd, a four-year member of Local 175 and Vietnam War combat veteran.

Taylor uses his body to shield unprotected officers from exploding bomb

Ryan Taylor, 30, is now an apprentice working out of Local 175 in Oswego, N.Y., through the Helmets-2-Hardhats program. He is also an Army Reserve sergeant who returned last year from duty in Afghanistan, where he risked his life to save others. In January, he was awarded the Army’s fourth-highest combat award for bravery — the Bronze Star Medal with a “V” for valor. Taylor refused to accept the next-highest award, the Silver Star, as this medal was given to soldiers he had known who died in action.

On Feb. 22, 2006, just two days after Taylor’s 29th birthday, he and other members of his company were searching for roadside bombs in Afghanistan. The search team also included military police, Army intelligence personnel, and Afghan national police officers. He and his company were providing security at a suspected remote-controlled bomb site. Taylor was in full protective battle gear, but near him stood members of the Afghan national police, wearing only flannel shirts. About 15 yards away, a bomb exploded. Taylor used his body to first shield the unprotected officer nearest him while simultaneously hurling himself and both officers in a ditch to ensure their safety.

“The debris hit me and not them. It probably would have killed them,” he said. Taylor sustained no serious injuries.

Taylor came home two months later to his wife, Andrea, and three children (the youngest was born while he was serving duty in Afghanistan).

The Bonze Star is now displayed with his 10 other medals at his parent’s house. When asked if he would go back and do it again, he doesn’t hesitate to make a positive response. But he wants people to know one thing: “A lot of good guys don’t make it. They don’t come home. That’s what gets me, and I want people to remember that.”