East Texas Soldier Gets Birthday Surprise

Nancy and Wayne Hill were at home in Chapel Hill a few weeks ago, when their son, Kyle, called.

The Blackhawk helicopter instructor was inviting them to his 44th birthday party at Fort Rucker in Alabama, but this wasn't going to be a regular party. It was being catered by the chef from his favorite Texas restaurant.

Kyle was in Afghanistan for his last birthday, so this year, his wife kelly wanted to do something special. She requested  his favorite recipe from Z'Tejas in Austin. When Executive Chef Jack Gilmore heard the request, he packed up his car with a team of helpers and drove 850 miles across the country to cook for Kyle and 30 of his fellow soldiers.

"I'm just a simple fry cook, but when somebody's going to defend the country, we have to give back, and this is what I think I'm doing," said Gilmore.

"You know, people say they support their soldiers. People talk about patriotism, but to have a guy like Jack come out. He drove all night. He left Austin at 5:00 in the afternoon and drove all night and showed up here at my house to cook for me. That's more like walking the walk," said Hill.

Kyle's parents say the gesture didn't just touch the soldiers. It touched their families as well.

"It means so much to the families of these soldiers, because they do not, sometimes, get the recognition that they deserve," said Nancy.

They say Kyle and his family truly miss Texas and probably won't move back for several more years, but thanks to the generosity of one man, they got a little taste of home this weekend.

Lindsay Wilcox/Reporting: lwilcox@kltv.com