Operation Tribute to Freedom

Faces From the Front for May 23, 2011 - Spc. Jared Hughes

Specialist Jared Hughes

Current Unit: 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division
Current Position: Convoy Security Gunner Team Leader
Component: Active Army
Current Location: Afghanistan
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pa.
Years of Service: 3

In enemy territory there is perhaps no attribute more valuable than experience. Familiarity with their surroundings helps Soldiers not only to safely navigate foreign terrain, but also allows them to offset the enemy advantage of fighting on home soil. Applying the skills and knowledge he gained during a previous deployment, Spc. Jared Hughes of the 506th Infantry Regiment now works to safely transport supplies through Afghanistan.

As a convoy security gunner, Hughes is responsible for the security of a team of military carrier vehicles that transport personnel and deliver materials such as fuel, food, ammunition and building supplies to forward operating bases and command posts throughout Afghanistan. In this role he must protect members of his team from enemy attack.

“My number one priority is the safety of my crew and others,” said Hughes.

A team leader, Hughes is also responsible for guiding the supply convoy as it travels a landscape littered with insurgent forces and improvised explosive devices.

“I am involved in being the eyes on the road for the front truck,” explained Hughes.

To effectively pilot convoys through hostile regions, Soldiers require a thorough understanding of their environment. Fortunately for Hughes, he was deployed to the same area of operation in 2008, giving him the experience that now serves as a valuable frame of reference for guiding his current missions. “I knew what to expect for the most part,” he said of his current deployment. “I knew the area like the back of my hand; it is imprinted in my mind.”

Hughes’ unit is also responsible for training and providing supplies to Afghan security forces.

“This deployment is focused on training and supporting the Afghan security forces, thus putting them in the fight,” explained Hughes. “We all want to assist the local security forces to move things along, and allow the security forces as well as the populace to see that they are capable without our direct support.”

Having knowledge of the people and area has helped Hughes in his convoy duties, however he has had to adjust to his leadership role.

“This deployment has been slightly more stressful now that I hold a leadership position,” he said. “It adds a great deal more work into an already busy schedule. Instead of taking on tasks alone, I have to manage personnel evenly to accomplish tasks quickly and efficiently.”

Directing his fellow Soldiers on various missions has given Hughes the opportunity to form a unique connection with them.

“The bond that has developed between me and the Soldiers that I mentor has been my most rewarding deployment experience,” he said. “When they trust me with their safety and security, a trust is built and that bond lasts for a long time.”

The meaningful relationships Hughes has formed in the Army come as no surprise. Having grown up in a family with a strong tradition of military service, he was inspired to join the Army by his relatives.

“My mother and both grandparents served in the Navy and Air Force,” he explained. “After hearing their experiences, I wanted to make my own memories and serve my country.”

Hughes is scheduled to arrive back in the U.S. at the end of the summer, and plans to return to his hometown of Philadelphia, Pa., and visit family in Lancaster, Pa. In addition to taking some time to relax and travel, he also hopes to complete additional Army training.

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