Fort Bragg youth receives Iron Mike Award
Major General Rodney Anderson, deputy commanding general, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, presents Michael Taylor, the first youth Iron Mike Award recipient, with his Iron Mike Pin.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - On July 30, Michael "Mika" Taylor, 10, accepted the first Iron Mike Youth Award in honor of his dedication to the Fort Bragg and Special Operations community. Taylor stepped in front of the crowd and shook the hand of Maj. Gen. Rodney Anderson, deputy commanding general, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, and smiled for the flashing cameras as he held a newly issued Iron Mike pin.

He set the stage for future generations of Army youth who value courage, dedication and service in the tradition of Iron Mike, the iconic Airborne Trooper.

Taylor, set to attend Freedom Christian Academy as a fifth grader this fall, first reached out to others with the help of his church in Fort Bliss, Texas. He cleaned trash from parks, visited the elderly and lent a hand to those who needed help in his community.

Taylor moved to North Carolina around the age of seven, where he began attending Fort Bragg events. Taylor's father is Capt. Michael Taylor, who is currently deployed as an aide for Brig. Gen. John O'Connor. His mother is Kaawaloa Taylor, who is employed with the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, Directorate of Family Programs as a Family program assistant.

"My favorite part of being a volunteer is helping other people and telling children like me that it can be done," said Taylor. His list of volunteer projects includes packing care packages for deployed Soldiers, passing out drinks and donuts at Green Ramp, helping to erect and tear down tents for events, helping with quarterly newsletters, monthly flyers, and Family readiness events and talking to other kids of deployed Soldiers.

Taylor also plays on a soccer team, builds "stuff" with his Legos and camps out with his Cub Scout pack. He lists science as his favorite school subject and enjoys the bug projects where he finds local insects.

Taylor's mom helps with his science projects and supervises his volunteer efforts.

"He did crafts in Cub Scouts and was able to help the younger kids at one of the Christmas parties with making a Christmas tree out of a pine cone. He took what he was learning in his own world at Cub Scouts and then he was able to mentor some of the younger kids at FRG meetings. So it was kind of cool; I like to see him being responsible," she said.

She also lets Taylor help at the SWCS Family center, where she works. He has processed over 300 welcome packets and sometimes greets Soldiers and Families who visit the center, directing them to areas for computers, copiers, fax machines and other center favorites.

"It's cool because we've had some kids at SWCS inquire about (helping)," said Kaawaloa. "He loves the whole Green Beret world."

"It's fun. It's sometimes hard but you're helping other people," Taylor said.

He said he looks forward to one day getting an Iron Mike gold star.

"I want to (finish)," he added, excited by the coin that Command Sgt. Major King Parks, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, gave him after the Iron Mike awards ceremony. Taylor keeps it in his coin collection, along with the first coin he received from his dad during his commissioning ceremony.

Kaawaloa, a former Soldier, laughed, "He now out-coins me."

(For more information contact the Army Volunteer Corps at 396-8160 or visit the Soldier Support Center, 3rd floor, located on Normandy Drive.)

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16