By Staff Sgt. Kyle Richardson (USARPAC)April 22, 2016
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii--After 10 months of serving as the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army Pacific, the "One Team" family gets ready to say good-bye to Maj. Gen. Christopher Hughes.
Hughes, a Red Oak, Iowa native, prepares for the next step in his 33-year-Army career. He will become Commanding General of the U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox, Kentucky.
As the senior leader of U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox, Hughes will be in charge of a total of 275 Reserves' Officer Training Corps programs located in colleges and universities throughout the 50 states. The U.S. Army Cadet Command is also responsible for more than 1,600 Junior ROTC programs across the nation.
"At the beginning of my career, I was supposed to do four years, at least that's what I promised my wife," said Hughes as he set back in his office desk and smiled. "I clearly didn't do what I was supposed to do, because here we are; 33 years later," he joked.
Hughes, the son of a veteran, comes from a proud military family. He attributes his success to the veterans, which influenced him throughout his youth.
"There's a since of pride that comes with growing up in Red Oak," he said as he recounted his youth. "I was raised that you may not have much but what you do have, you take care of. That is not a request that's a requirement. You should have enough pride in yourself and community that if you see trash on the ground, grass that needs to be cut, somebody needs help, it's your responsibility to do something about it -- never walk past it. That's what I've learned from all of those veterans."
Red Oak, a small town with a population of less than 6,000 is known for its military lineage. Hughes said there are more World War II veterans per capita in the place he considers his home, more than any other town in the U.S.
"My dad's business friends in town, my friend's parents, they were all WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam veterans," said Hughes. "It's a very patriotic town. So being in the military was just natural, it's almost expected for you to serve. I was taught you have to give back as much as you take, if not more."
And giving back is what Hughes found himself doing during his short tenure with USARPAC. As Chief of Staff, Hughes managed all of the staff.
"Gen. Brooks [USARPAC Commanding General] brought me to USARPAC to do what he said, 'I was uniquely qualified for in his opinion, which was to bring a climate, and a culture of innovation to the organization,'" said Hughes. "He needed me to help him continue to push the staff that has great systems and great talent, then to teach it to be more innovative in its approach."
While Hughes excelled at his job as CoS, the staff will also remember him has the one that introduced the "One Team" ohana to Tire-Tuesdays. A Tuesday appropriately named after circuit training drills involving flipping, carrying, and jumping over tires of various sizes, heights and weights.
"Tire-Tuesdays have given me the opportunity to see the staff in a different environment," Hughes said. "It's an innovative way to push the staff and help them achieve something that they have never done before."
The exiting Chief of Staff and future Commanding General of U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox has one request before leaving Hawaii.
"There has to be tires at every school," Hughes said with excitement. "Wherever I go, there has to be a pile of tires ready to go, because I'm not dragging any with me on an airplane."
While Hughes finishes out his last week and prepares to depart USARPAC after his honor ceremony, May 3, at Fort Shafter, he explained why his hometown was special.
"In my eyes, Red Oak is the middle of everywhere," Hughes said lightly. "When God goes out to check his garden, he sees Red Oak, it is utopia on Earth to me and my wife. Moving around a lot while my dad served, Red Oak was the only place my family stayed longer than four years. It's the only place I've considered home and it's where I say I'm from."