The subject of this article:
Lieutenant Dan Taylor is a character in the Forrest Gump novel and ensuing film. He was most likely born in the 1930s or 1940s. He was Forrest's platoon leader during the Vietnam War in 1967 and later becomes Forrest's shrimp boat partner in the Bubba-Gump Shrimp Company and best friend. He is played by Gary Sinise.
Lt Dan came from a family that served in the United States Military for generations. He had ancestors killed in every American war. Forrest called it "a long, great, military tradition".
In the movie, Forrest Gump and Bubba met Lt. Dan in Vietnam in late 1966. Lt. Dan calls them his F.N.G.'s, to which Forrest and Bubba salute him. Lt. Dan angrily tells them, "Whoa! Get your damn hands down! Do not salute me; there are goddamn snipers all over the area who'd love to grease an officer." He then looks at Bubba's lip and asks him what's wrong with it, to which Bubba tells Lt. Dan that he was born with big gums. Lt. Dan tells him to tuck his gums in, or else he'll get it caught on a trip wire. He then asks Forrest and Bubba where they're from, to which tell him Alabama. Lt. Dan then asks jokingly if they're twins. Forrest replies "No. We are not relations, sir." Lt. Dan then tells them that socks are the one item in G.I. gear that can be the difference between a live grunt and a dead grunt. Forrest and Bubba will need to change their socks whenever they stop during the war, "cause the Mekong will blow a grunt's feet right off his legs."
Lt. Dan goes to talk to Sgt. Sims about a swing rope he ordered. It is revealed by Forrest that he felt "real lucky to have Lt. Dan for a lieutenant because he knew his stuff." Lt. Dan was from a long great military tradition; someone in his family had fought and died in every single American War. The film shows relatives of Lt. Dan dying in The Revolutionary War (1778), The Civil War (1863), World War I (1918), and World War II (1944). After Lt. Dan is done talking to Sgt. Sims, he returns to Forrest and Bubba. He asks if they're from Arkansas. Lt. Dan tells them he has been there and that Little Rock is a fine town. (This is a reference to National Guard being called in to help integrate the schools, which is featured earlier on in the film). He then orders them to go shed down their gear and see the Platoon Sgt and draw what they need for the field. He also tells them if they're hungry, they have steaks burning and gives them the two standing orders in the Platoon: 1, to take good care of their feet, and 2. to try not to do anything stupid, like getting themselves killed.
Forrest then turns to Bubba and tells him that he sure hopes he doesn't let Lt. Dan down. During the war while Forrest and the soldiers are out looking for Charlie, Lt. Dan gets a strange feeling about the trail and the road up the way and orders the soldiers to get down and shut up, which they do. Lt. Dan crouches down making sure that there's no one up the way waiting to kill them to which there isn't. He orders Forrest and the soldiers to move out which they do and on the way a bomb goes off in a hole.The Lt. orders Forrest to check it out.
During the war it starts to rain and doesn't quit for 4 months and when it does Lt. Dan, Forrest, Bubba, and the other soldiers are ambushed by the Vietnamese on June 7th, 1967. Lt. Dan orders his men to take cover and talks through his radio to Strong Arm about what's going on when two of the soldiers are killed by a bomb that goes off. He orders the other soldiers to pull back and tells Forrest to run. Later when Forrest returns to the woods looking for Bubba he finds Lt. Dan and another soldier named Coleman laying on the ground.
Lt. Dan's legs are wounded but he's still alive and talking into his radio ordering for fast movers to be sent. Forrest tells Lt. Dan that Coleman is dead to which Lt. Dan tells him that he knows that and that his whole platoon is wiped out. Forrest then tries to pick Lt. Dan up but Lt. Dan orders him to leave him there but Forrest picks him up and takes him to the river. During the run Forrest is shot in the butt by an unseen enemy and Lt. Dan fires back at the enemy and orders Forrest once again to leave him but Forrest takes him to the river to safety to which Lt. Dan angrily yells at him for doing so and grabs him by the shirt. When Forrest begins to leave Lt. Dan asks him where he is going to which Forrest tells him to go get Bubba. Lt. Dan tells him not to because he's got an airstrike inbound and that they're gonna nap the whole area but Forrest doesn't listen. He returns to the woods and finds Bubba and brings him back to the river to safety, whom succumbs to his wounds moments later.
In the U.S. Army Hospital Lt. Dan has both his wounded legs amputated and when Forrest brings him some ice cream he annoyingly throws the ice cream into his bed pan and then is taken away by a nurse to have a bath. When Forrest plays ping-pong in the hospital Lt. Dan comes to watch him but stares out the window angrily.
That night Lt. Dan angrily pulls Forrest out of his bed and yells at him for saving his life. He angrily asks Forrest if he knows what it's like, not to be able to use one's legs, and Forrest (As he had had leg braces as a child) replies that he does. After calming down a bit, Lt. Dan then confesses to Forrest that he had a destiny which was to die in the field a hero, like his ancestors, and that Forrest cheated him out of it and that he was Lt. Dan Taylor. Forrest replies that he still is Lt. Dan Taylor. Lt. Dan then pulls himself back over to his bed and wonders what he will do now that he has no legs. The next day Forrest is awarded the medal of honor, to which he goes to tell Lt. Dan who is absent from the hospital. He later finds out from a Nurse that Lt. Dan was sent home.
In Christmas of 1971, Forrest is reunited with Lieutenant Dan in New York City. Lieutenant Dan is now a long-haired bitter alcoholic in a wheelchair. Dan appears dismayed that Forrest won the Medal of Honor (Though he does not react with Genuine hatred) and says, "I've got one thing to say about that; God Bless America". Forrest returns with Lt. Dan to his hotel room. There, Lt. Dan asks Forrest if he's found Jesus, to which Forrest replies, "I didn't know I was supposed to be looking for him, sir". But he tells Lt. Dan that he's going to Heaven to which Lt. Dan tells him to go down to the corner and get them another bottle of ripple before he goes.
On New Year's Eve of 1971, Forrest and Dan go to a bar where Forrest tells Dan about buying a shrimping boat because of a promise he made to Bubba. Lieutenant Dan did not take that seriously, laughs and jokingly replies that if Forrest ever became a shrimping boat captain, then he'd be his first mate. Then two hookers named Carla and Lenore come and start flirting with Lt. Dan. When the ball drops Forrest wishes Lt. Dan a happy new year but Lt. Dan sits in his chair upset that he doesn't have any legs and can't join the celebration. Afterwards Lt. Dan invites Forrest, Carla, and Lenore back to his hotel room where he makes out with Carla and Lenore tries to make out with Forrest.
But when he accidentally pushes her down (mainly because he's thinking about Jenny), instead of simply telling him that it was an accident, she gets angry and asks if Forrest lost it in the war or something and Carla calls Forrest stupid. Enraged, Lt. Dan angrily kicks both out for insulting Gump, and falls out of his wheel chair during the process. Forrest helps him up and apologizes for ruining the party. Lt. Dan wishes him a Happy New Year.
Forrest becomes a Shrimping Boat Captain later on, and buys his own boat, which he names "Jenny". After hearing about this, Lt. Dan arrives, and tells Forrest he will be his first mate, as he is a man of his word. For several months, they have no luck, until Hurricane Carmen destroys all the shrimping boats, except theirs, and they find themselves with an abundance of shrimp. Under the name "Bubba Gump Shrimp Company", they make a lot of money. It is then that Lt. Dan tells Forrest that "I never thanked you for saving my life" before jumping into the water. Forrest thinks that Lt. Dan never actually said so, but he made his peace with God.
In September, 1975, Forrest leaves the business after he learns his mother was dying of cancer, and after her death, he stayed in Greenbow, returning from his business. Dan then takes over and continues managing it. He substantially invests in what Forrest believes to be "some kind of fruit company." It was in fact Apple Computers, and it was his investment that began Apple's rise to success.
In approximately 1981, Forrest reunites with Jenny in Savannah, Georgia, and the pair, as well as Jenny and Forrest's son, Forrest Jr, return to Greenbow, Alabama, where Forrest and Jenny are married in a private ceremony. Several friends and family members had attended. Among the guests is Lieutenant Dan, who now has prosthetic legs, made from titanium alloy (the same metal used in the space shuttles). He is accompanied by his Vietnamese fiancee Susan.
Jenny dies a year later in 1982 from a Hepatitis C, and Forrest has her buried under the tree they played on as children, as well as demolishing the home of Jenny's abusive father. Forrest wonders if Lieutenant Dan was right about people having their own destiny, or if his mother was right about people "Floating around in the breeze accidentally". He concludes that maybe both are happening at the same time. Dan no longer appears afterwards, but is presumed to be alive and well, running the shrimping business, and is still in contact with Gump.