Heartfelt Goodbye
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Moment of silence
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SFC Clayton Hughes
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American screenwriter Frank Howard Clark once said that "Most smiles are started by another smile." For Soldiers at Fort Jackson, that's what they say they'll miss most about Sgt. 1st Class Clayton Z. Hughes -- his warm smile.

"I've never saw him without a smile," said Lt. Col. Yvette Brown, commander of 120th Adjutant General Battalion. "Although he was quiet, his presence was always felt."

A memorial to honor Hughes, who was the senior drill sergeant for Delta Company, 120th Adjutant General Battalion, was held Aug. 4 at Main Post Chapel. Hughes died July 29 as a result of a heat injury after collapsing the day before while attending the Senior Leader Course here.

Soldiers from across the installation and Family members attended the event to pay respect.

"I felt like I won the 'first sergeant lottery' when I received drill sergeant Hughes," said 1st Sgt. Kacie Dunn, who worked with Hughes in the 120th.

Dunn said during the first two weeks of working together she knew that she wasn't Hughes favorite person.

"When he would walk into my office at the beginning of every day he would have a huge smile on his face and say 'First sergeant, come see what we changed last night,'" she said.

"At the end of him showing me what he changed I'd say, 'That's great drill sergeant but this needs to be added'... and he would look at me and say, 'First sergeant, it's too easy. I'll take care of it.'"

Hughes completed five deployments in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

Before joining the 120th, he was a senior drill sergeant with the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment.

He enlisted into the Army in 2000 and completed his basic combat training and advanced

individual training at Fort Jackson. Hughes was a native of Queens, New York.

"I remember the day I met him," said Brown. "He tried to convince me that New York was the best state and, likewise, I was trying to convince him -- and I do believe that I did -- that the only state that exists in the United States was North Carolina."

Hughes is survived by his wife, Serena, and their three children, Joavan, Julien and Anaya.

"It's hard to understand why tragic things like this happens to such great people," said Capt. Alex Zayas, of Delta Company, 120th AG Battalion. "I always see him (in my memory) giving me that contagious smile."