Havre de Grace Mayor William T. Martin presented a key to the city to Maj. Gen. Randy S. Taylor, the senior commander of Aberdeen Proving Ground who is departing for a new assignment later this month, in the hopes that “you’ll use it to find your way back.”
Martin, who noted Havre de Grace “is a city that is completely inundated with APG” in terms of the many residents who work on the Army post or have retired from there, presented the honor to Taylor and his husband, Lucas, during Monday’s City Council meeting.
“They have not only been great ambassadors of their post, but they’ve endeared themselves to the surrounding community,” Martin said.
Taylor, a more than 30-year veteran of the Army, has been the senior commander of APG since April 2017. The post is Harford County’s largest employer with about 28,000 soldiers, civilian workers, contractors and retirees.
Taylor will depart later this month for a new assignment as chief of staff with U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska. Maj. Gen. Mitchell L. Kilgo, who is coming from U.S. Central Command in Florida, is scheduled to succeed Taylor with a change-of-command ceremony June 20.
Randy and Lucas Taylor, who have been married since July 4, 2013, have appeared at multiple community events in Havre de Grace and other parts of Harford County — the general was the guest speaker at Havre de Grace’s recent Memorial Day observance in Tydings Park — and Taylor has worked to make APG more open to the community with events such as APG Discovery Fest in the spring.
Martin stressed that “we’ve had great generals in the past” at APG.
“They had one job, that is to make sure what’s done at Aberdeen Proving Ground is always better than our enemies,” the mayor said. “It’s the center of Army innovation, as General Taylor has said many times. Their job is to run that base, run it efficiently and defend our country. Whether they ever leave the base or not, they do their job and they do it well.”
Martin said Harford County residents have known in the past “something was happening” at APG, although those who are not in the military or work on post were not exactly sure what.
The post, which was founded in 1917 during World War I, has been a center for the design and testing of military weapons, vehicles and equipment, and it has taken on additional missions in recent years such as developing ways to protect the U.S. from nuclear, biological, chemical or explosive attacks, cyber security, medical research, even conducting background checks.
“General Taylor has educated the community [on] just what the phrase ‘Army Strong’ really means, and how we as citizens of our country can play a supporting role for those who wear a uniform, and those civilian contractors who work on the base to properly support those who wear a uniform,” Martin said.
City Council President David Glenn, who recently retired after 38 years as a civilian worker at APG, recalled that he “never set foot in a general’s quarters, ever,” when he worked on post. He has been to the general’s residence several times since Taylor took command two years ago.
The Taylors host dinners for area elected officials at their home on a regular basis.
“You guys are awesome,” Glenn said. “You’re not only the commanding general of Aberdeen Proving Ground, you’re a friend to all of us — you’ll be sorely missed.”
Martin noted the key to the city that he presented to Taylor is only the second key he has given since he became mayor four years ago — the first recipient was Jim Newby, who retired in the summer of 2018 after 40 years as a city employee and volunteer.
Taylor called the key to the city “an incredible, incredible honor.”
“I’m wondering if we deserve it because what we’ve done is just being us, just trying to embrace this community as much as you’ve embraced us,” he said.
Taylor said he and Lucas did not know what to expect when they arrived in Harford County, but “there’s been no more welcoming place” in the more than 22 years the couple has been together than Havre de Grace.
He thanked city leaders for “just allowing us to help bring APG out of the gate,” and he thanked the mayor and council members for “your selfless service” to the community.
“I know you lead with servants’ hearts,” he said.
The Taylors posed for photos with the mayor and council members and exchanged hugs with several of them.
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“Don’t lose that key, because we’re going to want you back!” audience member Walter “Pee Wee” Glenn — father of the council president — told Taylor as he left the council chambers.