VICENZA, Italy – Sgt. 1st Class Arthur J. “AJ” Hushen, 307th Military Intelligence Battalion, 207th MI Brigade – Theater (MIB-T), receives the U.S. Army Commendation Medal from Col. Mark A. Denton, commander, 207th MIB-T, at Caserme Ederle, Sept. 2.
Hushen received the award for his selfless service, aiding a hiker, Emily Sachar, down a treacherous trail in the Italian Alps, known as the Dolomites, in August 2021.
According to the award citation, Hushen's leadership, compassion, patience and empathy were instrumental in ensuring Sachar’s successful completion of a 450-meter descent down the mountain safely.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mandi L. Johnson, 307th MI Battalion, who is part of the volunteer group Hushen created to get people interested in the outdoors through various mountain activities, was with him when he encountered the panicked hiker.
"Of all the people passing this woman by, he was the only one to stop and ask, 'are you ok?',” said Johnson. “And from there, he made the problem his responsibility. He told his travel companions much further down the trail, 'She's struggling. I'm gonna go back,' and he did."
Leaders’ across the 207th MIB-T praised Hushen’s willingness to help others.
"Everything about how he supported the hiker in need is exactly the character of person and NCO (non-commissioned officer) Sergeant First Class Hushen is," said 1st Sgt. Scott Masino, 207th MIB-T. "Hushen sees the potential in his Soldiers and positively pushes them to excel. Don't feel you can push yourself to complete a run, he will be right there next to you; unsure if you will succeed at a task, he will be right there, supporting you every step of the way. What she experienced is something our team sees everyday with Sergeant First Class Hushen."
Hushen’s actions not only avoided a potential rescue operation, but enabled the civilian hiker to accomplish her personal goal, completing the first five days of an eight-day Dolomites trek that she had planned for nearly a year.
"In the two years I’ve served with Sergeant First Class Hushen, it’s been apparent that he’s extremely passionate about three things; mission, taking care of Soldiers and people, and climbing mountains," said Command Sgt. Maj. Clark A. Kuhling, 307th MI Battalion. "Typically, I only see him crushing mission and taking care of Soldiers. I was following his journey through the Dolomites with two others on Facebook, and when I read the blog about Hushen helping the stranded hiker down the mountain, I wasn’t surprised at all. He’s the kind of NCO that will put himself at risk to help a stranger as often as he needs to."
Sachar, who shared her story on The Red Hook Daily Catch website, said she had just made a steep ascent to the top of Lagazuoi Mountain in the Dolomites and was unsure how she was going to get down the tight zig-zag descent of nearly 1,400 vertical feet, when asked if she needed help by Hushen who was below her on the mountain.
Sachar shared that Hushen carried on a conversation with her that helped her navigate the dangerous path down during the rescue.
“It would take me two hours to get down to the lake, when everyone else seemed to run like an Olympic hurdler," said Sachar. "And in those hours of tepid tiptoes, I learned that AJ runs a volunteer sideshow with Army personnel teaching rock climbing near his home in Vicenza.”
The 207th MIB-T is the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command's newest brigade, activated in March 2016. The brigade conducts intelligence analysis, collection, and exploitation in support of U.S. Army Africa (USARAF) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) in order to set the intelligence architecture for the theater, disrupt trans-national and trans-regional threats and promote regional stability in Africa while building and maintaining intelligence readiness.