By Special to the Army FlierMay 28, 2010
CARLISLE BARRACKS, CARLISLE, Pa. - Soldiers, Families, friends and Department of the Army civilians around the service remembered Col. John M. McHugh, who died May 18 in Afghanistan while assigned to the U.S. Army Battle Command Training Program as commander of Operations Group A, Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
Formerly assigned to Fort Rucker, McHugh was serving on a NATO key leader training mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. McHugh was among five U.S. Soldiers who died in Kabul of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their convoy with a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.
McHugh served for several years at Fort Rucker. Some of his positions included 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment executive officer and 1st Battalion, 11th Aviation Regiment commander.
At Fort Leavenworth, a memorial service at the Lewis and Clark Center was held May 24 for the community to pay its respect and honor his memory.
McHugh, a member of the U.S. Army War College Class of 2009, received prayers and remembrances from the Memorial Chapel communities Sunday.
McHugh and his Family were active members of the USAWC Family during his student year, 2008-09. He is remembered as a father, friend to fellow students and an avid athlete - softball player and Youth Services soccer coach.
"During the course of (that) year, I never had to tap him to do anything to help me out. If he saw something that needed to be done, he approached me and told me, 'hey, Ken, I got this. I'll organize it.' It was terrible news for all of us," wrote Col. Ken Johnson, chairman of Seminar Five, McHugh's USAWC seminar.
Johnson remembers him on graduation day with "a wide grin on his face, looking mighty pleased."
"What I will always remember about John was the way he integrated his faith, his love of Family and his service to our nation," wrote Col. Richard Gross. "John demonstrated balance in his professional and personal life better than anyone I know, and his love for life was a lesson to us all. I would be remiss if I didn't add that he was the best shortstop I ever met."
"I couldn't begin to describe in words that would truly give justice to the wonderful friend, Family man and officer that John was," said fellow student Linda Legier, director of the Combined Arms Support Command Lessons Learned and Quality Assurance Directorate. "He had a smile on his face every day and left a positive impact on all with whom he came into contact."
A formal memorial service will be scheduled in the coming months by the Alumni Affairs office. McHugh's name will be inscribed on a memorial here.
A "Remembering Johnny Mac" can be found on Facebook.
McHugh is survived by his wife, five children and a granddaughter.