POTEAU, OK, USA U.S. Army SPC, HHC 1-180TH IN BN KAMDESH, AFGHANISTAN 02/19/2007
Sergeant Buddy James Hughie did not have a long life, but his legacy of altruism and courage will endure forever, speakers at his memorial service said Sunday. More than 600 people filled Poteau High School’s Sherman Floyd Fieldhouse on Sunday to honor the Oklahoma Army National Guard member who was killed in Afghanistan last week. Poteau is about 125 miles southeast of Tulsa.
Hughie was killed Feb. 19 when he left his covered post to bring medical aid to injured Afghan soldiers.
“This was a soldier who cared more about others than he did himself,” said Brigadier General Myles L. Deering, the commander of the Oklahoma National Guard’s 45th Infantry Brigade.
“He didn’t have to be in Afghanistan, he didn’t have to serve those 45 days in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. He was there because he believed in what he was doing. More importantly, he backed those beliefs by action.”
It was not Hughie’s first trip overseas. He was in Afghanistan during 2002-03 and had volunteered for a second tour of duty. Sympathy and gratitude was showered on Hughie’s family Sunday.
Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins said Hughie was a true hero who epitomized selfless service to the state and country.
“He faced an enemy with courage and bravery and left a legacy of a true patriot,” she said.
Prayer offered comfort to Hughie’s family. A few of his favorite songs, including “O Holy Night” and “Amazing Grace,” were played. A slide show captured moments of Hughie’s life, including times with his sister and friends, marching band, baseball, his wedding and nuzzling his newborn son.
Family members said he loved to play the piano and trombone. He was active in the Boy Scouts and Poteau Valley Baptist Church. He was taught to read by age 3, and later preached and recited Scripture from a stump in his back yard. He was said to be full of energy and always smiling.
“Even though he had a short life, he had a full life,” said the Reverend Jim Parsley, who officiated at the memorial service.
Hughie was killed by small-arms fire in Nuristan province in northeastern Afghanistan. He was a member of the 1st Battalion, 180th Infantry with the Oklahoma Army National Guard. His unit was on a joint mission with the Afghan National Army and the Army’s 10th Mountain Division. The joint force came under attack from an enemy firing gunshots and rocket-propelled grenades. Hughie and his team members got off their vehicle and returned fire. Two Afghan army soldiers were wounded. Hughie was shot and killed when he left his covered position to give them medical assistance. The 180th is assigned to train soldiers in the Afghan National Army.
Hughie graduated from Poteau High School in 2000. He will be buried in Charleston, S.C. He is survived by his wife, Alexis Hughie, 23, of South Carolina, and their son, Cooper, who was born in November.
He’s also survived by the grandparents who raised him, Kenneth and Delores Hughie; his mother, Julie Hicks; a sister, Jennifer Claiborn; a brother, Dennis Hicks; and his great-grandparents Andrew “Buddy” and Dimple Rogers.