February 19, 2015

In spite of our grief we can still see God’s faithfulness and goodness.

Although we are still grief stricken, life moves on.  We are thankful for new seasons, new life and new relationships.

I can still see it all (vividly) unfolding in front of me. I feel that helpless feeling. I can hear that moaning… that deep guttural moaning. The screaming and tears are still so real to me.

However, I am now able to see past the profound heartbreak, past the eternal events of that fateful night.  I am able to better (not completely) understand part of His Divine plan for our family.

Here now, eight years later, we still grieve his untimely death. But we celebrate the life he once lived. We celebrate life with those left behind because that is what Buddy would want and expect. He died so that others could live. So live we must. Enjoy life we will. And remember that our American Hero will always be with us in some way or another.

Remembering the husband, the father, the son, the friend.

Saluting the Soldier:

KIA, FEBRUARY 19, 2007

Always smiling

Buddy and Cooper

Like father, like son



February 24, 2012


On Sunday, February 19, 2012 we marked the five year anniversary of our American Hero being KIA while serving as an army medic in Afghanistan Asia by having a WREATH LAYING CEREMONY.  I have written a bit about this tragic event (previously) so I won’t take the time here to go over all of that.

I invited Buddy’s former CO to the service and asked if he would be the Key Note Speaker.  They are in OK and we are in SC so it was quite a committment for them to make that seventeen hour drie.  He accepted and brought three other OKNG soldiers with him.  All four soldiers were in Afghanistan with Buddy.  I later found out that one of the soldiers was actually in the same convoy that was ambushed by the Taliban when Buddy was KIA!

Our grandson was only three months, four days old when his Daddy Buddy was KIA.  Now that he is five years old I wanted to do something to help him put some pieces of the puzzle together.  He may not yet recognize that there is a puzzzle but I felt like it was important to do something too not only mark this five year milestone but too also give our little guy some memory of his daddy.

So upon he advice of Randy “Steam” Stevens (the SCPGR Captain) I decided on the Wreath Laying Ceremony.  And since this is a military service and I am a mere civilian it wasn’t the easiest thing to pull off.  I couldn’t have done it without the help of the South Carolina Patriot Guard Riders.  Their State Captain was instrumental in helping me manuever through the various agencies.  And if not for Senator Glenn McConnell the Color Guard would have been a highschool ROTC team.  But I felt like Buddy was a decorated soldier and he deserved real soldiers at this ceremony.  I think he’s earned much more than that.  And although one First Sergant from the South Carolina National Guard initially told me that they usually reserve Color Guards for dignateries or high ranking officials he changed his tune when the Senator’s office inquired.

The Ceremony was scheduled for 1400 hours that Sunday.  When I awoke that morning it was pouring down.  We had gotten over two inches of rain that night and depending on which forecast you looked at the forcast for the remainder of the day was 90%-100% chance of rain for the remainder of the day.  Great!

Fortunately the funeral home that helped with Buddy’s burial was nice enough to erect a tent and put out some chairs for us.  And they didn’t charge anything either!

Around 1230 hours the rain let up.  Since the cemetary is less than two miles from our home I decided to ride down there to check on things.  The tent wasn’t up yet.  I guess since we had thunderstorms the night before they layed the rug and chairs on the ground then placed the half-round tent top over that.

At 1320 hours I rode back down there to make sure the Color Guard and bugelar were there and too see if the tent was up.  There had been a number of challenges so I just wanted to let my family know if there was something not quite right.  The Color Guard was there and the tent was up but no bugelar yet.  I decided, what the heck, I wasn’t going to worry about anything else.  It would either come off or not.

I got a call from the SC Patriot Guard Riders and we were to meet them at a store parking lot so they could escort us down the highway and into the cemetary.  There were about twenty-five to thrity bikes with flags so it was an impressive entrance.  By now our prayers for no rain paid off.  The rain stopped!

When we arrived at the cemetary everyone was there.  We waited a few minutes to exit our vehicles so that the SCPGR could form their flag line.  The Color Guard was in place in their dress uniforms.  The OKNG soldiers were there (standing at attention) in their dress uniforms.  Our pastor was there.  The vocalist (the praise and worship leader at our local church) was there.  I didn’t see the bugelar but he should have been tucked away somewhere in the distance.  Everything was set.

Capt Rowland opened with a few short remarks about the ceremony followed the singing of the National Anthym.  Brad (the vocalist) later told me that he was scared to death about messing up the National Anthym with all those soldiers there.

Next Captain Rowland spoke about Sgt Buddy James “Doc” Hughie.  (And how interesting is it that as Captain Rowland began speaking that the sun actually brok through the clouds?)  As he spoke, I learned some more about Buddy.  I knew he had completed Advanced Infantry Training to perform the duties of an army medic.  However, I did not know that he had also successfully completed Advanced Infantry Training for both Engineering and Military Police!  Captain Rowland said that it was unusual to find a soldier who had completed two AITs and it was virtually unheard of to have a soldier in your unit that  haD completed three!  Sgt Hughie was a very accomplished soldier.  I also learned that day that when they were deployed to New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina relief his unit found a survivor on day five.  Buddy administered life saving treatmentS to her.  Captain Rowland said the elderly woman was laying on her mattress for five days.  He said you could see the water mark on the walls where the flood waters had floated the mattress up to almost the ceiling.

Next our pastor spoke.  He not only spoke about Buddy (whom he knew) but he also spoke about heroes.  Not those who hit or catch or throw a ball but real heroes!  People who step outside their comfort zones.  People who are selfless.  People who will do whatever it takes, even or especially under dire circumstances, in spite of the risk to their own life.

I watched the soldiers, Buddy’s friends.  Captain Rowland had to stop twice to compose  himself when talking about Buddy.  The other three guys were almost ready to break down and openly cry but they kept it together.  It’s difficult to explain but it did me good to see their emotions still so raw after all these years.  They later told me that this is really the first time they had the chance to say goodby.

I was holding together pretty good… until taps began.  Something about that lone bugelar playing that sad song off in the distance.

After the Wreath Laying Ceremony it was time to adjourn to our community clubhouse where we all enjoyed a catered bar-b-que spread.  There were stories about Buddy’s life.  There were laughs.  But the best thing of all is the way our little grandson played with those big burly soldiers of the Oklahoma National Guard.  They picked him up like he was a rag doll and tossed him around.  To hear their laughs, to hear his little giggles to see all their smiles and watch them begin, what I believe will be a life-long relationship, was very healing for me.  And when he gets a little older I think our little grandson will appreciate not only his Daddy Buddy’s life but also appreciate his new soldier friends of the OKNG!

In spite of the circumstances that brought us to that day, Sunday, February 19, 2012 was a pretty good day.


May 31, 2010

Sgt. Buddy James Hughie




Entered into eternal rest serving in Operation Enduring Freedom

Afghanistan, Asia


Killed in Action (KIA) with a single shot from a Taliban sniper while rendering aid to Afghan Army Nationals.  Sgt Hughie went where no other dared.  He saved the lives of two men who were of a different race, a different religion, who lived in a foreign land and they spoke a different language. In the process, his heroic actions cost him his life.  Sgt Hughie stepped out and went where others refused go.

We love him and miss him dearly.  If you have not visited  the links “Our American Hero” and “Sgt Buddy James Hughie” on this home page please take time to do so and get to know our American Hero.  He is the one we knew as Buddy, the one with the radiant white smile who was always willing to help you with whatever needed to be done.  The world is a little darker without Buddy Hughie.

Enjoy your freedoms for they are bought with the blood from our American Heros.


February 19, 2010


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:

Sgt Buddy James Hughie (right)

Sgt. Buddy James Hughie (K.I.A.)

Image Hosted by

Village Children by Kala Gush.

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


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:


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. 


Fatherless or Not?

November 23, 2008


Sunday was a bitter sweet celebration for us.  Little Cooper turned two years old.  On the one hand it’s difficult to believe that it’s been two years since his birth… and also twenty-one months since his daddy while serving as an Army Combat Medic was killed by that Taliban Sniper.

If you haven’t yet read about Buddy here it is  also, these are most of the things on the internet about him:

Early on in our “journey” things were dark and difficult.  Grief is a very strange thing.  This grief is completely different from any other I have experienced.

You see, most people don’t know that Buddy never met his father… not once.  He was so determined to be the daddy to little Cooper that he never had.  We are so glad that he was home for two weeks leave when baby Cooper was born.  Those two weeks are precious to all of us.  Buddy was kinda selfish with his little son.  It was difficult for most anyone else to get some “face time” with new born Cooper.  Buddy was feeding him, changing his diapers, getting up in the night (letting his bride rest) all of it.  One of my favorite pictures is of Buddy burping Cooper with an empty baby bottle on the coffee table in the foreground.

Initially, I was comsumed with hatred for “those Muslims terrorists”.  Honestly I allowed myself to fall in to that trap of hating all Muslims. 

I won’t go so far as to say that I am probably like “most” people but I’m probably like a lot of people.  I have to be on guard not to lump all people of a certain “group” (be it religious, race, ect.) into the same steriotypicle thought process.

Not all Muslims have hijacked their faith into a violant blood thirsty belief.  Not all whites have the loathsum beliefs as the skin-heads or the KKK.  Not all black men are drug abusing, gun toting thugs.

However, I will admit, I do still have to purposely… intentionally have to check my motive when I interact with these groups of individuals.  The problem I have is knowing where to draw the line on my and my family’s safety and being so tolerant and accepting that I put my family at risk.

In the end I have to rely on one thing.  Believe it or not I have to trust in my relationship with the Trinity.  As I “seek ye first the Kingdom of God” I MUST BELIEVE AND TRUST THAT HE IS FAITHFUL TOO NEVER LEAVE ME NOR FORSAKE ME!!

I can hear the thoughts of some of you.  Asking, “How can you say that when your God allowed your SIL, your twenty-three year old daughter’s husband, your three month old grandson’s daddy get killed.”

Admittedly, initially, this question has been very difficult for me to wrap my mind around.  It didn’t happen over night (or even a few weeks) but eventually I was “awakened” to the fact that God is God and man is man.  Man is inherently corrupt and violant in nature.  God is merciful, loving and all knowing.

God knew Buddy was going to be killed.  God knew that Alexis was going to be widowed at the age of twenty-three and left to raise their baby as a single mom.  God knew that baby Cooper was not going to have his biological daddy to raise him.

God also knew wha a remarkable family we are.  He knew that inspite of this tragic event we would look beyond the grief, that we would (ultimately) look to Him for our comfort and guidance.  God knew that this would draw us even closer, that this would force us to acknowledge the inner strength we each have and what amazing love and strenght we have as a family.  God knew that Alexis and little Cooper would buy a house in the same neighborhood as we live in.  God knew that we would be able to “input” into Cooper’s life regularly. 

God knew what tremendous heart ache, pain, anguish and yes even doubt this would bring into our lives.  However, He also knew when we (eventually) came out of the fog of our individual and collective depression and grief that we would be a beacon of light for each other.  But most of all our Lord knew (and stil knows) that we will rely on Him to guide us down the path of healing, health, love and acceptance.

Yes my precious little two year old grand son is without his biological father but he does have all of us but most importantly little Cooper has the most important father.  His Eternal Father, the One Who created him will never leave him nor forsake him!

Be blessed in the knowledge that no matter the tragedy, no matter the heart break, no matter the challenge, none of us are alone in that for the Savior has sent to us the Helper, the Comforter.

Killed in Action – Our American Hero

September 5, 2008

100_0599I’ve been trying to figure how to post the photo of our entire family taken three months before Buddy (on left holding baby Cooper) was killed in Afghanistan.

If you don’t know his story you can look at my previous posts on “Death at the front door” (Parts 1 thru 3)

Our Family Photo100_05991

Have you ever wondered why it is when anyone dies it is always said of them “They were a good person”.  Well if you Google “Sgt Buddy James Hughie” you will see  his official story and know that he really was more than a “good person”.

What you will see in the official accounts of our American Hero’s death is that he “left his position of cover” to render aid to wounded soldiers.

What you won’t see in the official accounts is the reason Buddy left his position of safety.  I personally spoke with two different army officers under two separate commands who were there that day.  In fact one of the officers was in the other up-armored Humvee that recovered Buddy’s body after he was killed by a Taliban sniper.

Buddy and two other soldiers, while traveling in an up-armored Humvee,  were embedded with the Afghan Army Nationals on a patrol one morning.  There were two Humvees on that patrol.  The one Buddy and the others were in was at the head of the column with the ANAs.   The other Humvee was that of the 10th Mountain Division in the middle of the column.  That Humvee was the one with all of the communication antennas on it.  Which in military terms means “Hey, we are the target.  If you knock us out nobody will be able to communicate.”  The ambush began by a rocket propelled grenade being fired at the “communication platform”.  At that point all hell broke loose.  The ANAs dismounted their vehicles (they travel around in Ford Rangers) and went up the mountain after the Taliban insurgents.  Upon seeing wounded ANAs Buddy (being the medic) left the safety of the Humvee and covered 300 meters of open ground to get to the wounded soldiers.  He was killed by a single shot just above the flack jacket in the arm pit.  The trajectory of the projectile was from up high to down low.  The bullet pierced Buddy’s heart killing him instantly.  Buddy was credited with saving two ANAs before making the ultimate sacrifice.

According to my “off the record” sources… remember from two different army officers, in two different units, at two separate times… the reason Buddy got out of the Humvee and decided he had to cover those 300 meters, under constant fire, to get to those wounded ANA soldiers is that the other two American soldiers that were in the Humvee with Buddy REFUSED TO ENGAGE THE ENEMY!  That’s right they “chickened out” to put it nicely.

I asked the officer in Buddy’s command what happened to the Sgt in charge of the Humvee that refused to engage the enemy.  He told me that he was sent back to his unit.  I asked if there had been any disciplinary action and he had the nerve to say to me “Well Mr. C, you know… he has to live with that for the rest of his life”.  Wow, no kidding.   He has to live with the fact that he is home every day snuggling up with his wife, playing with his children and living his life.  You know what Lt. WE HAVE TO LIVE WITH IT EVERY DAY FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES TOO!!!

So what is going to happen the next time these guys come under fire and freeze up?  What happens to the next husband and father?  How many more widows will it take before this guy is held accountable?

Of course I haven’t told my daughter about this… she thinks they are all her friend.  And since I am not Buddy’s “next of kin” I can not be granted access to any official reports.

It seems to me that what Buddy did in the face of death deserves more than two Bronze Star with Valor medals and a Purple Heart medal.  Buddy could have turned back.  He could have crawled back into that up-armored Humvee… toO safety.  After all he only had three months until he would rotate home to his wife and 3 month old baby son.  Seems to me he earned more than that.  But that’s just me not understanding how the army does things.

It’s been nearly nineteen months since my 23 year old daughter was widowed and little Cooper’s daddy was killed.  On one level it seems like just last night.  On another, it seems so, so long ago.  We miss Buddy terribly.