South Mississippi salutes the military

By Jeff Lawson - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Tuesday evening, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce held its annual Salute to the Military. This was the 31st year for the event.

The Convention Center was at capacity with 1,100 people filling the ballroom. Along with hundreds of active duty personnel, there were veterans dating back to World War II.

Joseph Balanovich spent more than three years serving in Vietnam.  He said he couldn't help but look at some of the youthful faces in the room and wonder if they too will one day learn the hell of war.

As he is each year, fourth district Congressman Gene Taylor was among those at the salute. A veteran himself, he knows what our military means to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

'"These are our neighbors, great neighbors in times of peace, and great neighbors in times of war," Taylor said.

The keynote speaker for the evening was Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead. In the early 90s he and his family, lived in Ocean Springs for two years.

"And it is still a favorite part of my career when I look back on all the things I have been able to do," Admiral Roughead said with a smile on his face.

He was commander of the first Arleigh Burke class destroyer built in Pascagoula. In that time, he saw firsthand, the special bond between the people of the coast and our military.

The admiral said in all of his travels around the world, he has never seen a community that bonds with its military the way the Mississippi Gulf Coast does.

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