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Rachael L Hugo


U.S. Army


BAYJI, IRAQ 10/05/2007

The Madison soldier killed last week in Iraq kept volunteering to go out with the troops when she could have stayed back on base, a great uncle says.

“That’s the kind of person she was,” Robert Hugo said of Army Reserve Specialist Rachael Hugo, 24, of Madison.

The Defense Department said Oct. 6 she died Oct. 5 when insurgents attacked her unit using an improvised explosive device and small-arms fire. She was assigned to the 303rd Military Police Company based in Jackson, Mich.

Juanita Davis, 21, who described herself as a friend of the soldier, said Hugo had been working toward a bachelor’s degree in nursing at Viterbo University in La Crosse before she was deployed to Iraq a little more than a year ago.

“She would do anything for anybody,” Davis said. “Her heart was always in everything that she did.”

As a part-time certified home health aide for the La Crosse County Health department, Hugo would visit homebound patients to help with daily health needs, said Gwen Loveless, a former co-worker.

“She was excellent with everybody,” Loveless said. “She worked so hard. I wish I had her drive.”

Sergeant Major Janet Jones, a spokeswoman for the Army Reserve, said she believed Hugo was treating another soldier when she was killed during the incident in Bayji, Iraq. She said details were sketchy and an investigation into her death was underway. The former high school cheerleader was looking forward to coming home and had even gone on an online shopping spree for new clothes, said her mother, Ruth Hugo. Her parents and her little brother remembered Hugo as a beautiful and intelligent woman who had a passion for caring for the wounded. In an e-mail to her parents from Iraq, she wrote: “Being a medic is what I live to do.”

Hugo was assigned to the 303rd Military Police Company, based in Jackson, Mich. The unit, which was deployed in September 2006, was responsible for providing security for convoy operations.

“She was always very adamant about volunteering and going out on missions with her guys,” said her father, Kermit Hugo. “She told us countless times that she needed to be out there with them. If somebody got hurt or something and they didn’t have a medic, she was beside herself.”

He said his daughter was credited with saving the life of a sergeant who was badly wounded by a roadside bomb about three months into her tour. She was in the back of the convoy when the bomb exploded and jumped into action even though gunfire was going off, he said. During a news conference at an Army Reserve center, he pulled out of his pocket a commemorative coin his daughter received for her actions. She gave him the coin when she was in Madison on a two-week leave in May for her birthday.

“She told me that she carried it with her wherever she went. She wanted to be sure that it didn’t get lost so she could bring it home to me and give it to me,” he said. “I’m just truly honored that my daughter would do something like that. Thinking of her family over herself. That’s just how she was.”


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