GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Former U.S. Congressman Gene Taylor was recognized Tuesday for years of supporting our troops deployed overseas. Taylor received the coveted Crystal Wings Award from the Soldiers Angels Organization.
It's the highest award the global organization gives out to a person who it deems has gone above and beyond in their efforts to help deployed troops.
WLOX NEWS was at the National Guard Base in Gulfport when Taylor received the prestigious honor.
"For those of you who were not on the deployment where a little taste of the South was delivered to us from the Mississippi Gulf Coast by Mr. Taylor. And not only did he have it delivered, he brought with it himself and came to visit us while we were in theater. And I was lucky enough to be present at two of those occasions," said Colonel Billie Miller, as he spoke to members of the 1108th TASMG.
The 1108th TASMG is just one of the groups of soldiers Taylor provided a Southern cooked meal for while he was a congressman. He made more than 10 trips to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan from 1991 to 2010.
"The first Gulf War ended, thank God, quickly very and went well as far as the Americans were concerned. But I know a lot of spouses were very frustrated that y'all were not coming home sooner," Taylor recalled. "I made some dumb remark like, 'If they're not home for the 4th of July, I'll go over there and cook shrimp for them.' Y'all were not home by the 4th of July."
His delivery on his promise was greatly appreciated.
"Anytime you get a taste of home when you're sitting in a desert 8,000 miles from home, it's nice," said Miller.
Taylor said many people made the visits and dinners possible.
"Basically, you go over and beyond as a volunteer taking care of our soldiers. Gene defiantly has done that with his gumbo drops. He's done it with soldiers' support, he's also done it with our veterans here in Mississippi," explained Jeanne Graeser with the local chapter of the Soldiers Angels Organization.
Taylor said right now it would be tough to do what he did for the troops because of a policy change, and that, he said, is a shame.
Taylor currently supports "Fishing With Soldiers," an activity designed to help de-stress soldiers who have returned home from war zones.