Sgt. Buddy James Hughie was shot and killed by a Taliban sniper while (serving as an army medic) rendering aid to wounded Afghani Army National soldiers. Buddy went to the aid of men who had darker skin, were of a different religion, had different customs and spoke a different language. He was credited with saving the lives of two of those foreign soldiers. Perhaps those men are with their children today.
Buddy was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars with Valor for his selfless acts of heroism that day on a foreign battle field. He was to rotate home in less than three months to rejoin us, his bride of two years and baby Cooper… age thirteen weeks and three days.
We will always remember the two weeks Daddy Buddy was home for the birth of baby Cooper. He was up night and day with his little boy, feeding him, changing his diaper and cradling him in his arms as he looked lovingly into his eyes. I can clearly remember Buddy holding Cooper while looking at his newborn pink skin and saying in an awe-struck, loving voice (almost a whisper) “You are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”
Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for him.
This video still makes me cry when I watch it: http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=6648845
Sgt Buddy James Hughie (right)
Sgt Hughie personally volunteered to go on every mission into the local villages to inoculate local children like these.
Sgt Hughie’s Memorial Service in Afghanistan
NOW FOR A PERSONAL MESSAGE:
Thirteen weeks and three days after this picture was taken….
I remember meeting Buddy for the first time. He looked me in the eye, shook my hand and had that big smile he was famous for. At that time we had three daughters that were of dating age so I had done the drill of “meet this guy” a few times. I knew there was something different about Buddy because I did not dislike him right off. There was just something about him that was appealing.
Eventually Buddy became more than my daughter’s boyfriend. He became my employee, he became my friend. For nearly a year we rode side by side in my work van everyday. We talked about everything. I was very fortunate in that I was able to closely observe him in a daily basis. I was able to watch how he interacted with people, how he treated them and how he did not treat them.
One day when we sat down for lunch and the waitress brought our food Buddy looks across the table to me and says, “Before we eat I need to ask you something.” What’s up, I replied. “I would like your permission to marry Alexis.” I smiled and told him that of course he could have my permission and that I was happy to move our relationship to the next level. Buddy was just an old-fashioned guy and I liked that.
Whenever we would see Buddy and Alexis together they always looked so happy and full of life. Their love for each other was obvious. He treated her like a queen, always doing all the little things that a young man does when he adores his woman.
A little over a year after they married Buddy deployed to Afghanistan, Asia. While he was deployed Alexis moved back in with us. By now she was pregnant so we converted our diningroom into a bedroom for her and the baby. Buddy scheduled his leave to coincide with the birth of their baby. He so wanted to be there for every moment he could with their baby. You see, Buddy never met his father. He was determined to be the daddy that he never had. He was home on leave two days before Alexis went into labor and infant Cooper was born. I wish you all could have seen the radiance on both of their faces. The way they looked at each other and infant Cooper is etched into my mind’s eye. I can still see Buddy feeding Cooper, burping him, changing his diaper, talking to him and snuggling with him in the bed.
After feeding and changing Cooper’s diaper it’s time for some sleep.
Buddy holding Cooper and Carter.
Buddy holding Cooper with Porter.
The man who many others would eventually come to know as a bona-fide American Hero was the man we knew as:
HUSBAND, DADDY and FRIEND.
Our lives are richer because Buddy James Hughie became a member of our family. He loved us and we love him. I only wish I could have better appreciated just how close we all are back then.