Rep. Taylor's loss may deprive troops of 'Operation Gumbo Drop' at Thanksgiving

Rep. Gene Taylor’s (D-Miss.) reelection loss may end a decades-old holiday tradition, depriving the country’s deployed troops of authentic Mississippi food.

Taylor, a 21-year veteran of Congress who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, was among a line of old bulls who lost their seats on Nov. 2 in an anti-incumbent wave. Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) also lost his reelection bid.

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The Mississippi Democrat has treated troops at war to thousands of pounds of shrimp and gumbo since the early 1990s. But this Thanksgiving season, Taylor will not be able to carry out his tradition.

Taylor was scheduled to lead a congressional delegation to Afghanistan around Thanksgiving, but House of Representatives' rules will keep him put.

Even though they still officially represent their districts in Congress, lame-duck lawmakers and their staffs are barred from traveling abroad. Taylor’s spokesman, Ethan Rabin, confirmed that Taylor will no longer be traveling to Afghanistan post-election.

Rabin said that the office hasn’t had a chance to discuss whether Taylor would still send a taste of Mississippi with lawmakers still traveling to Afghanistan during the holiday season.

The tradition started during the 1991 Persian Gulf War when Mississippi National Guard members were deployed to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Since then, Taylor has brought seafood for troops serving in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq. Last year’s trip to the U.S. joint base in Balad with Taylor was dubbed “Operation Gumbo Drop.”

Taylor told troops in Iraq last December that the tradition was born out of a “dumb bet.” He promised spouses of the Guard members deployed to the Gulf that they would be home by the Fourth of July and that if they did not come home by then he would bring them some shrimp.

The troops did not make it home by Independence Day, so Taylor had to bring the shrimp to the port city of Dammam in Saudi Arabia. Since then, Taylor brought over the Mississippi food to deployed troops several times a year.

"It's great — for some of these troops, this is the third or fourth time I've met them on a deployment," Taylor said during his December trip, according to an Army press release. "I'm over here to say thank you to them."