#BuckFiftyADay Since March, 2014

#BuckFiftyADay Since March, 2014

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Colonel John McHugh, 1963-2010


The following entry will be all over the place. I apologize ahead of time.

Yesterday, I lost a dear old friend when U.S. Army Colonel John McHugh was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. I had known John since I was about eight years old.

We lived in different towns but always crossed paths in sports. Always.

From Church Basketball (he played for St. Al's, I played for Caldwell Presbyterian) to soccer camp in the summer, to watching our older brothers play American Legion baseball together, to the day when he and I learned as freshman we had made the Legion team. We warmed the bench together and loved every minute of being a part of the Post 185 squad. A year later, in 1980, we both got our chance to play...two years later, we were part of a team that won the Essex County championship and came within a game of winning the state title. As seniors, we won another county title, but John missed out on the post-season as he had to report to West Point to begin his life as a cadet. Without John as our backstop, our team was not the same.

He was a catcher in baseball...a goalkeeper in soccer. He was a born leader.

John went on to play goalkeeper at West Point. He loved soccer with all his heart. He was a great goalkeeper because he was a student of the position. Always in position, head always in the game.

In fact, he recently went to US Goalkeeper Training School...I saw this on Facebook.

"I got schooled this weekend by the Director of Coaching for the NY Red Bulls youth team; however, I recovered in time to knock the ball out for a corner before it crossed the line. of course, I also pulled a muscle; maybe it's because he's about 20 years younger and much better than me. But will I ever learn? Of course not, just keep playing."

Growing up, John was always one of those kids looking to organize a game, be it soccer, basketball or baseball. He (like myself) was a field rat. In high school, he not only was the goalkeeper on a team that went to the state finals and a catcher on a team that won the Greater Newark Tounament (a big deal in NJ), but wrote the game stories for the Caldwell Progress. Seriously, I thought he'd one day become the mayor of Caldwell. He was loved by everyone because he was so good-natured, friendly and honest. He was one of those guys who never had an off day. Always had a smile.

John graduated from West Point in 1986 and served his country for the next 24 years, most recently at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. He still found time to coach soccer teams in Kansas. He was really looking forward to watching the World Cup. He wrote me recently asking if I needed someone to carry my bags in South Africa. He was a huge fan of the US team and my brother Bob. John had two older brothers, Jim and Frank, who crossed paths in a similar way with my older brothers.

Different towns...same upbringing. Clean-cut boys, like me and my brothers. Parents that wouldn't let them get out of line. Like my parents.

On May 15th, John wrote on Facebook. "On the road again tomorrow. Heading to Afghanistan for a couple of weeks. If my travel doesn't get whacky I should be back in time for the Indy 500." The next day, John wrote: "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:6-7."

Three days later, he was killed.

John leaves behind his wife Connie and five children, three daughters and two sons. He recently became a grandfather at 46. It had been 25 years since I'd spoken to John and I'm thankful that he and I had gotten back in touch. We'd talked about having a 30-year reunion for our 1981 Legion team. I was counting on him to put it together.

He would've been our leader.

Rest in Peace, John. I'll never forget you, my friend.

86 comments:

ChargeOfQuarters said...

I served with John in Germany in the late 80's to 1992; we went to Desert Storm in the same unit. He was a good friend and family man. I will miss him greatly.

Anonymous said...

We were stationed with the McHugh's in Giebelstadt Germany. They are a great American Army family. We are so sorry to hear of this news.

Donna said...

Jeff, thank you for a touching tribute to a fine man. I will make sure his parents see this. It will mean a lot to them.

gerard said...

I, like you Jeff grew up around the McHugh family from the sight of the McHugh Milk truck to John behind the plate. I was his backup catcher, so needless to say I always encouraged him to pursue pitching. But either way he was a born leader. I pray for him and his family. God just enlisted the "best" goalkeeper on earth.
Gerard Giannetti

susanjbradley said...

John, the JCHS Class of 1982 salutes you and your family. Your character was above and beyond, and your sense of humor and smile could light up a room. We are all special in God's eyes, but you were beyond. We will miss you terribly. I was looking forward to reconnecting with you at long last. Rest well. XO. God has a new and wonderful angel. -Susan Jelly Bradley.

George said...

I served with COL McHugh recently and one of my first memories, upon hearing of his death, was always seeing him at the soccer fields in Enterprise, Alabama when my daughter was just starting to play soccer. He loved coaching kids. He was a great American and will be missed by many.

Jim said...

Jeff:

As John's older brother Jim, I thank you on behalf of my entire family for such a moving tribute. Please keep all the men and women serving our country in your thoughts and prayers

Dave said...

Jeff,
Thanks for taking the time to write such a nice article. John was as "apple pie" as it gets. You sometimes get de-sensitized to this constant fighting overseas. Until it hits home, you do not put faces to the over 5000 killed in combat thus far. I hope mankind finds a way to evolve so we can put an end to this part of our nature.

John , like you Jeff, loved to write. John wrote for the progress. I looked forward to his legion write ups and found him to be the finest team mate. On and off the field.

-Dave Veneri

Anonymous said...

Jeff, thank you for your reflections of John... all accurate. He was a wonderful person to all who knew him and an incredible family man. The entire McHugh family is in our prayers. Our families have been close since 1996 and we have been stationed with them several times over the years. I found out today and still find it hard to believe. He touched the lives of so many with his infectious smile and energy. I know the news has spread like a wildfire because so many people loved him. Connie and the kids are in our prayers- Bill

Karyn said...

We were blessed to be stationed with John and his family in Germany it was an honor to know John and his wonderful family! Connie and kids you will be in our thoughts and prayers.
God Bless
Sincerely,
LTC and Mrs. Scott Halverson

Anonymous said...

Jeff,

Thank you for such a nice article about John. We graduated from West Point together and everything you wrote about is so true. He will be missed by all of us.

Anonymous said...

Jeff,

Thank you for writing such a touching tribute to such a wonderful person. John was such a competitor on the field and always a true gentleman on and off of the pitch, court or diamond. When our college soccer team traveled to West Point, he was sure to take time to converse and ask how things were in Verona and how my father was doing. When he went to serve on his first tour of duty students in our class wrote letters and sent care packages to him during his stay. He always took the time to write back to us and proudly visited Wilson School in West Caldwell when he returned home. Although I hadn't seen him in many years I would often hear how he was doing from his family members. Once again, thank you for such a wonderful tribute to a man who touched the lives of so many.

Tish said...

We lost touch with the McHughs after flight school, but have thought of them with fondness thru the years. Connie, you and your children are in our thoughts and prayers now more than ever. God bless and keep you! love, Tish and Joe Roberts

Julie said...

We are so heartbroken to hear this news. We will pray for John and will continue to offer our support to you, Connie, and the children. May God's Peace be with your during this difficult time.

Bill and Julie Davisson

Brian said...

I served with John as an Air Traffic Controller at Fort Rucker AL. He was an awesome individual and we are all diminished by his passing.

peter said...

Jeff,
That was a very touching tribute to John. We were in first grade together at Saint Al's and would bump into each other after that from time to time. He was the friendliest most mild mannered kid in the whole school I think, very sorry to hear this news.

Anonymous said...

I went to jr. high and high school with John. Although he was a year ahead of me and we didn't run in the same circles I do remember him and that he always seemed to be smiling and happy.

God bless John and his family and all those serving to keep America and American's safe.

Neil said...

Jeff, thanks so much for writing such a wonderful article about a real hero. As you know, in sports the word "hero" is used quite often. What our youth of today should be taught is that men like John McHugh are the "real" heroes. Having grown up in Caldwell I had the honor of knowing John and his entire family. John's passion and energy for life, family, friends and his country will be missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to the McHugh and Edwards families.

Neil Lentine

Meg said...

What a wonderful tribute. We've been friends with John and Connie since 96 and have been stationed with them 3 different places. Unheard of in the Army. He was one of the finest men I have ever met. Our hearts are broken at his loss. We will miss him.

Megan Huber
Enterprise, Alabama

Anonymous said...

I am so sad to her this news of the loss of a GREAT MAN. I met Connie and John in Germany on 1988. They were wonderful people and welcomed me into the Army life. He will be missed. My heart goes out to Connie and the family. God Bless.
Tammie Clark

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a wonderful tribute to a great man, great coach, and awesome soldier. I knew John and West Point and we got back in touch here at Leavenworth. He just gave my daughter goalie lessons last week. He was a great coach, mentor and role model.

Rest in peace.....we will miss you!

Shawn Budke

Lee said...

Jeff,

Thanks for such a fitting tribute to a man that touched so many of us. It was a pleasure to work with him, and most importantly to be his friend. Connie and family, we mourn with and PRAY for you during this time. John is safe in God's presence today.

Anonymous said...

Jeff: I was absolutely stunned upon hearing the news from Steve Epling (another teammate from the 80s). How eloquent your words are to describe John and his upbringing in N.J.

We salute John, our fallen soldier, teammate, and friend--a leader among men and a hero to many. Our hearts are heavy, yet we celebrate a life in which John made a significant difference in his work, his play, and most importantly, his family.

May his soul rest in peace.

Alex Sung
USMA '82

Jay said...

John and I coached many sports together at Ft. Rucker through the years. Our kids were the same ages and we got to know the Mc Hugh Family well very well over the years. John was a great mentor for the kids he coached and for parents alike. I never saw John in a bad mood and was always full of life. He is a true friend and a great American. My heart goes out to Connie and the kids. John will be missed by everyone. My prayers are with the McHugh family.

Jay Starr

paula.alberto said...

Thank you for that wonderful tribute to an American hero and an amazing family man. John was a man with a good soul and it didn't take long after meeting him to figure that out. He treated people with a kindess and compassion that was rare in this world. I had the honor of working with John on and off for about four years at Fort Rucker, Alabama and I remember always sharing stories with him about our children. Our oldest boys were both the same age and we used to spend lots of time swapping stories about how parallel their lives were. They both graduated the same year, they both followed in our footsteps and joined the military, and we always talked a lot about how proud we were of all of our children and what great kids we were blessed with.

What I remember most about John though, was the way he treated people. No matter what drama he was going through at work, he always interacted with people in a way that made that person feel special. He had a sense of joy, love and compassion that could only come from really knowing God. My prayer is that Connie and their family and many friends are able to take some comfort in that - because John is with God now and they will be reunited with him one day.... May he rest in peace now. He will be miss by us all.

Anonymous said...

I met the Mchuges when they were stationed at Ft.Rucker,Al. Mr. John coached our reck soccer team for a the spring season I played. It was amazing and I loved it alot. He taught us not only how to be at team but a good one that worked together and encoraged one another. I cannot imagine what they are going through, it is such a shock. He was a great man.

Mamie & Papa Bill said...

I first met then CPT(P) John McHugh in 1996 where we worked together in DOTDS at Fort Rucker, AL. Everyone who knew John quickly became a friend. We worked side-by-side, even sharing a computer for months and an office for over a year. Our families also lived very close together on Ft. Rucker so it was natural that John, Connie and the kids and myself and my wife, Karen, became very good friends. Our friendship continued as we went to F1 races together in Indianapolis, including his son, Mike. We were looking forward to getting together again as we were both here at Ft. Leavenworth.

John McHugh was a wonderful man, an honorable man who brought joy, integrity, and fun to all that he did and to all whom he touched in his life. He was a fine Officer, Commander, and Soldier, a great Aviator, and, most importantly, a devout Christian man who dearly loved his wife and truly loved his children. John McHugh was the consummate Soldier; someone to be admired and emulated.

I can hardly write this as my heart is heavy. I know all who read and write herein will join me in being there for Connie and their children just as surely as John would have been there for any of us.

I thank God for a friend and fellow Soldier like John McHugh and the nation should thank God for a man who so dedicated his life to this great Nation and our Army.

Bill & Karen Barker
Fort Leavenworth, KS

Anonymous said...

Jeff: Thank you so much for your kind words about John. It brought me back to the late '70's and early 80's. Your words have been settling to a family that is still in shock, but filled with faith. I appreciate this and give my best to your parents, Bob, and Scott.

Frank McHugh

Anonymous said...

Jeff - a wonderful tribute for a wonderful man.

Ed Thomas

Nanna of Alli said...

John McHugh attended Crossroads Bible Church during his time in 2008-2009 at the Army War College in Carlisle. He went out weekly with my husband, the pastor, on visitation and soulwinning. He was a Godly man and a Great Example to others. We missed his family greatly when he was transferred last year to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. We hold them all in our hearts and we will always miss him. But we know that we will see him again in Heaven. He made this world a much better place. He was a wonderful Husband, Dad and Friend to all who knew him.

Kellie said...

I am who I am because John and Connie touched my life.

I had the privilege to serve as one of John's Company Commanders at Fort Rucker. We survived the hurricanes and crashes. We stood together and notified a family of the loss of their Soldier. We celebrated the achievements, promotions, and births of new family members. He inspired so many and the world is a better place because of John.

We shared the West Point experience, having been cadets in the same company. He lived for Duty. Honor. Country. I am touched by how he chose to live his life, honor his family, and use his talents.

He and Connie helped me bring two amazing people into this world. His legacy will live on and I am humbled just to have known him.

Grip Hands.

ted soriente said...

my heart is saddened tonight for the loss of such a fine young man, and a American hero. I am honored to be a part of he and his wonderful family for many years. God can now use a good catcher

Charles said...

My prayers for the ultimate competitor. What else could a coach want. A left handed-hitting catcher with power, who could run and throw. but his best tools were his smile, his chuckle and, of course, his freckles. Our condolences to all members of the McHugh family. May I also take this opportunity to offer our thoughts and prayers for all of John's "teamates" who serve their country so valiantly.
Charles and Terry Honeker

Hugo said...

I met John at an F1 race a few years ago and I thoroughly enjoyed his company during that brief time together. My deepest sympathy for John's family and perpetual indebtedness for his service.

- Hugo Becker

April and Rich Hadnagy said...

Jeff,
Thanks for writing such a wonderful tribute to an outstanding American. John and I were stationed together at Fort Rucker 1998-2000. He was always a positive leader who brought an enthusiasm for life with him in all that he did. He loved to run and wanted to run a marathon. He trained regularly for it. He was the consumate father and Soldier. He loved the Lord, his family and the Army intensely. He was an outstanding mentor who lead by example in word and deed. Our prayers are with Connie and the children during this heartbreaking time. We are comforted knowing that he is in God's loving care and we will see him again in a much better place.-April and Rich Hadnagy

COL Emery Midyette said...

I was blessed to live just across the street from John and Connie's family during the past year. I left Fort Leavenworth for a deployment to Iraq just a couple weeks ago and talked to John just before I left. The description of him in the article was spot on. John was liked by all and always had a smile on his face. He was one of the nicest Christian men that I have ever known. My prayers go out to his entire family. This is a tough loss for all.

Mike said...

Well done Jeff Bradley.

Like all of us, I carry a heavy and broken heart due to the loss of John McHugh. My prayers and thoughts go out to his great family. A family I literally grew up with and enjoyed every imaginable type of sporting activity and game in that great backyard of theirs.

I must share one very special story about John McHugh that exmplifies his character, spirit and courage - when he was a HS student-athlete, in the Summer of 1981.

I was a pitcher for Seton Hall University from 1977-1981 and a Caldwell HS Graduate. I played baseball with Frank McHugh and some basketball with Jimmy McHugh.
in High School.

In my senior year at SHU, I suffered an elbow injury, halfway through the '81 Season, and could not finish the rest of the season. Despite the injury, the NY Mets and some other teams were interested in taking a look for the June MLB baseball draft.

The elbow began to heal prior to the June draft. The NY Met's sent scout Buddy Kerr and others from the Scouting Bureau to see if my elbow was OK.

With less than a day's notice, I needed a catcher as the Scouts were coming to see me throw, at Caldwell's Baseball diamond that evening. There was not a college catcher in the area available with that late notice. My father said "how about John McHugh?" I said "Dad, John is great but a young HS catcher". Dad said "he can handle it, call him"

So, I called the youngest McHugh brother. He was excited, ready and up for the challenge. So it was 16 year old John McHugh donned in his best Caldwell Chiefs gym shorts, tshirt, catcher's mask, catcher's mitt and off to the diamond to catch me up.

I remember asking him in the car, on the ride to the field, if he thought he could do it, not to get
hurt, do not try to block curves in the dirt, or get hit by a heater. John said "No problem, you just tell me what you are going to throw". Little did i know how good he was.

John confidently took his spot behind the plate and said "Let's go". He was fearless on every pitch, and handled the fastballs and breaking stuff like a pro. He was brilliant.

He may have made a better impression in front of the scouts than I did!

I signed a few days later at Shea Stadium, and then packed up to play for the Little Falls Mets, in the half year Class A, NY Penn League (the same year Jeff Bradley's brother Scott started his pro career for the Oneonta
Yankees)

I am not sure what would have happened if I did not have John that evening. I may not have had another chance to throw for the Scouts.

That is the type of kid and guy John was. He would put it all out there, take on the tough challenges, with confidence and courage, each and every time.

John was very close with my Dad too. He would come over to our house and talk to him on the porch for hours that summer, while i was away playing. I wrote letters to John letting him know how things were going.

As all of you have represented so well, John was very special.

God does not make many like John McHugh, and he now has John resting in his heaven.

Thank you for all the lives you have touched and changed John McHugh.

- Michael O'Beirne

Matt Christ, USMA '86 said...

Thank you for this wonderful and touching tribute to a truly great father and leader. John touched the lives of everyone he met in a very special way, and he will be missed. God Bless.

Bradford said...

as a soldier currently on active duty, i have never served with Col Mc Hugh, but i did howeever attend church with him on sundays. He has a great family, a family that is God-fearing and full of such love. Even though I know my brother in Arms and in the Lord is in heaven, he will very well be missed back here in Ft Leavenworth. -
Dave Monihan Army Spc.

meinnovations said...

Thank you Jeff and everyone for the tributes. "Johnny Mac" was one of the most friendly, happy, nice guys I ever met. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.
Mike Eddy
USMA '86

Michael said...

Jeff, thanks for the perfect words to honor a true hero and gentleman.

I first met Johnny Mac on as a walk-on at West Point, trying out for goalie. I didn't stand a chance. I had skillsd, but nowhere close to the talent John had.

Over the next four years John was there to coach, assist and cajole me, whether on the field, in the classroom or as I paid the price for my disciplinary infractions.

John was one of a key group of people who helped me through the really rough times and got me through to graduation--and on to a successful career.

To the McHugh family I send my prayers and sentiments. You should be proud. COL John McHugh was the perfect example of what a soldier, teacher, mentor, friend, father and husband should be. I would be blessed to be half the man he was.

dish

Rob said...

Jeff, thank you for paying tribute to John. As a soccer teammate of John's, particularly as a defender, I entered the game knowing we had a huge advantage over the other team. It's been said in other posts, but no one competed like John. He was the ultimate teammate and a role model in so many ways. -Rob Nardino

Lisa said...

Jeff: Thanks so much for such a touching tribute. My brothers and I grew up across the street from the McHughs on Orton Road. Never a day went by when John wasn't out in his yard playing basketball, soccer, football, etc. I will always remember his happy, freckled face and great disposition. The Stille and Garrity families send out their heartfelt condolences to the McHughs at this difficult time. Rest in peace, John.

Lisa Stille Garrity

John said...

Jeff, well put. John alwayd had a smile, always wanted to play something in the backyard, even if it was football against our older, bigger brothers, like Jimmy, Frank, my bro, Vinnie, et al. He certainly was the nicest kid in the neighborhood and was always up and positive. I was fortunate to be on several teams w/ John in baseball and we had some good teams in Suburban, Legion and HS. No one worked harder and seemed to enjoy every minute. While I've not kept in touch w/ John since college, I feel very privileged to have spent many an afternoon w/ him playing in the backyard. I'm sure he'll be organizing some games upstairs. I will miss him and my heart goes out to the McHugh family...John Holland

Tim said...

Jeff,

Thank you for such a great tribute. I lasted spoke to John probably a year ago when he came back to Fort Rucker for his son's graduation from flight school. He had such a successful career in the Army, but each time we spoke about his moves from Fort Rucker to Carlisle and then to Leavenworth, he talked about his family. He said how much they loved their church and hoped to find another one like it, and how his children looked forward to the changes. I will miss John. He was a great person. God Bless.

Tim McConvery

infidelzealot said...

Col. McHugh was my BN commander at the 1-11th avn. at Ft. Rucker six years ago. He was a great commander and a great leader; totally in command, yet totally at ease with his troops. He never acted like he was better than his soldiers by virtue of his rank and West Point degree. The Army lost a good one.

Gerry said...

Even though I didn't know the man, it was a good human being, and a friend of mine's cousin....
My prayers will be for him, and his family !!!
Gerry L.

John Magness said...

Jeff, thanks for sharing your platform and your well written thoughts. We were together at USMA, flight school, 4-2ACR, Gulf War. Johnny Mac always had a smile, kind word, a peace about him, but with a great warrior spirit. He will be missed. God Bless.

mwright said...

I did not know John, but as a fellow goalkeeper, New Jerseyan, combat veteran and American, I mourn his loss and my deepest sympathies go out to his family and my heartfelt appreciation for his service and their sacrifice.
Very Respectfully,
Michael Wright
SFC USA (Ret)

Chuck Muzzy said...

Jeff,
Thanks for the wonderful tribute to John. Very well stated! Good catcher, great goalie, tremendous leader, wonderful human being! He will be missed by all who knew him!

Chuck Muzzy

cjkcp said...

I never knew John as an officer, but only as a true gentleman from JCHS class of 1982. My prayers are with his family. Janice VanBrunt Felstedt

Dave said...

Thanks for your article Jeff, I grew up with John and he was my goalkeeper on our JCHS soccer team. A great person and I will surely miss him. Condolences to his family.
Dave Zodikoff

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for the tribute to a great man.

I was a classmate and company mate of John's at West Point. He was a great friend and awesome human being.

Johnny Mac is remembered by all my classmates with a smile. When I heard the news an image of Johnny walking down the hall with a great big smile came to mind. He was just that way. I cannot remember him ever being in a disagreement or cross with anyone else.

Go with God Johnny you were loved and are well remembered. We will miss you.

Ben C
Class of '86, D4

sandeepkaul1 said...

Jeff, thanks for a nice tribute to a true "officer and a gentleman". We grew up in W Caldwell (NJ) and I recall John always being the first one picked when we formed teams for sports and the “go to guy” when we needed a homerun or basket. He was a great competitor, and made all of us in turn better athletes and human beings. He lived a life true to his convictions and beliefs and led an exemplary life that inspired anyone who had the fortune to know him. The long list of Caldwellians posting here (including coaches and teachers) is a testimony to his amiable personality and strong character, which were shaped early in life and provided the foundation for what was to blossom into a true American hero and a champion of shared values that cut across geo-political boundaries. We'll miss your smile and gentle nature and pray for your family's strength, but will always carry part of you with us in our thoughts, actions and memories. - Sandeep Kaul (Plainsboro, NJ sandeepkaul1 –at- gmail.com)

Dan Sheerin said...

I never met John McHugh, but I learned of John and his loss from some West Point Alumni friends.

When I heard John was a soccer player, as a goalkeeper myself for many years, I immediately wondered if John had been a goalkeeper for Army … for from the few things I had just learned about him, John sounded like a man very much committed to defending his and our goals, and to keeping these goals always.

It’s always the goalkeepers. That's how it is with goalkeepers. They are all in; they don’t give up.

A young goalkeeper friend died unexpectedly several years ago, and I wrote a poem to remember him. This young goalkeeper was also was named John. Here is a version of that poem -- from one goalkeeper to another –- in John McHugh’s honor.

Thank you for your great service and sacrifice for me and for all of us … God bless you, John McHugh! I will take your memory to heart.

Some of us who never met John McHugh
Gallant soldier who made his stand
Yet in an instant still knew John
from his fighting realm command
We recognized John as a king in the kinship of those who defend the nets
and we will forever tell our sons
his courage do not forget
For amongst the posts and crossfire
John stood fast and knew no fear
He sparked his Army team forward
so must we ever persevere
Oh how John’s saves displayed the salvation of our greatest goal and keeper
and so it was John joined God’s side
to mind His nets set deeper
And we know brave John still stands strong by our side always there in goal
For John is the keeper in our hearts
forever with the Keeper of our souls

Jim Madison said...

Hi Jeff:

Please plant the idea in your brother's head that the U.S. team could do worse than to dedicate their World Cup effort to Col. McHugh.

Anonymous said...

Mr Bradley, you make this man seem corny. He seems like he's too good to be true. It sounds like he was just too much of a positive role model, and someone who let's his spiritual life intrude into his every day. My question to you, Sir is: why can't we have more men - real men - like John McHugh in the world? I have sought out such examples since my Annapolis days, and they exist, but are few and far between. But I believe you have captured a glorious story here. I gave up on Sports Illustrated years ago after Rick Reilly ridiculed pro athletes who prayed after a game success. That made me sick. You - and Col McHugh - make me proud. God blessings to his family as he looks down at the incredible legacy he must be leaving, and a path for all of us to strive to follow. I look forward to your future writing, and to the John McHugh story to be retold throughout America and the world. Thank you again.
Terry Foust
USNA '71

Walt Tombs said...

Jeff,

Thanks for such a great tribute. My deepest sympathy for the McHugh family.

Anonymous said...

John was a West Point classmate of mine that I remember well. Always present with a quick smile and a solid faith. He embodied what is good and right about America and why we continue to be the greatest force for good in this world.

John, I know you are in a better place where there is no sorrow nor pain and that you are dancing on streets of gold before your Heavenly Father. May we all live our lives in a way that honors your legacy forever!

Eric G.
USMA '86

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Rob said...

Jeff,

Thank you for summarizing John so well. Having known John and his family for about 40 years, this is still hard to accept and my family's deepest sympathies go out to the entire McHugh family. Often at times like this, it is common to issue standard comments about what a great human being somebody was. However, in this case, it is entirely accurate. John was as fine a person as anyone could ever ask to be associated with. I'm proud to have been his friend and teammate and will miss him.

Rob Ragozine

Jonneeboy3@gmail.com said...

I loved John McHugh. He had a special way of making you feel as though you and he had a special bond, a unique connection that only you two shared. The twinkle in his eye, the gentle smile, the shared joy in a small joke...he was a fine, fine man. He is with Christ, I know, and I should be happy for that, but we are all poorer for his absence. Donna and I will pray for his family, that somehow, some way, some good will come of all this. May the Lord bear up his family and especially his precious wife, Connie. Well done, good and faithful servant...be thou at peace.

Paul Jarossy said...

I was a senior when John was our junior catcher on the Caldwell Varsity baseball team. Though I had caught myself up through JV, I decided to stay in the outfield because I knew John was the better man for the job. It seems that, in all things he did and all the lives he touched, John WAS INDEED the best man for the job. I will cherish the memories I have of him and for knowing him, though all too briefly.

PAT said...

Jeff - awesome tribute for a great American. We came to know the McHughs at Fort Rucker, AL. I worked with COL McHugh in the local Army Aviation Association and our sons were good friends, sports team mates, JROTC buds, and now fellow Combat veterans together. The McHughs represent all that is good about America, COL McHugh's loss is a loss for us all. Our Prayers and condolences go out to his family, he will be remembered and missed by us all.

Scotty and Dawn Johnson said...

A Great American Hero, Family man and Friend. I remember when we met in Germany (Savage Troop, 4th Sqd 2nd ACR), back when he was an LT, I knew he would make a great officer. He was always doing crazy things around the Troop and when he was playing on a local German Soccer Team. Use to tease him about getting hit too many times by a soccer ball when he was the Goalkeeper for the the West Point Soccer Team. Also, got to work and see him often when he was the Commander for the Air Traffic Services Command (ATSCOM) here at Fort Rucker. When I retired in 2004 he told me that he started his aviation career with me and wanted to be part of me ending mine. He stood if front of his unit at my retirement parade. I'll never forget his smile, his giving and how much he loved his beautiful family. GOD BLESS connie and the kids.

Dave Bassett said...

I like many who've responded, served with John in Germany and during Desert Storm.

Thanks for posting this tribute to John and his life.

It is hard to add to the kind words and tributes already posted but I thought the world of John, was privileged to serve along side him, and will miss him greatly.

My prayers are with his family and my heart heavy but grateful for his dedication, his service, and his friendship.

COL Dave Bassett

Anonymous said...

In the past few days, I have had such positive and fond memories of John.
Intense pick up games in the McHugh's, or our backyard or when really important at Wilson School. John was always the exceptional player full of talent but more important fairness and sportsmanship. I am not surprised at all that he touched so many people in so many positive ways.
My entire family is saddened by the loss of such an authentic person.

John Grund said...

In the past few days, I have had such positive and fond memories of John.
Intense pick up games in the McHugh's, or our backyard or when really important at Wilson School. John was always the exceptional player full of talent but more important joy,fairness and sportsmanship. I am not surprised at all that he touched so many people in so many positive ways.
My entire family is saddened by the loss of such an authentic, caring and honorable person.Our thoughts and prayers are with his entire family.

Anonymous said...

Duty Honor Country. Be thou at peace.

Mike B. said...

Proud to call John my classmate. He represented all that's great about America. Be Thou At Peace.
Mike Barbee

Anonymous said...

John McHugh was the best of us. Thank you for reminding me of a crinkled smile, sitting on a back porch comparing minor gaffs by our children and a booming voice tinged with humor echoing across the field of play as one of his young team mysteriously would go to the left and the ball to the right. Of laughing with exhaustion at our near defeat building a jungle jim for his kids, but really all of the neighborhood.
John could talk any sport as if it were the mathematics. I know this because I witnessed it on numerous occasions as he and my sportsaholic wife would combust into esoteric minutia of a ball game or a car race, that would send childern skittering to other rooms while Connie and I would be left to find a more mundane topics.
John could tell you the current circumstances of almost anyone he knew. He kept up with everyone as though they were his family. He treated all of us as such. While finishing war college, taking finals, and preparing to move his family yet again, he took the time to write a letter to a Congressman on the character of my daughter so she could attend an academy.
John is a man of God. His passion for his belief was plain to see every Sunday. I sat across from John at church when we were stationed together. No matter what was going on around us, or children were younger then, he was serene. He would leave church rested and content. I think that is part of what made him such a magnet to all of us; his soul was bedrock.
We are poorer now with the loss of John, and I must confess guilt at only now understanding the depth of his worth and friendship. I hope that I can still learn from my good friend.
He was indeed the best of us. Rest in Peace John, I'll see you at Fiddler's Green.

Al Huber

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jeff, wonderful tribute to a great American, patriot, classmate, soldier, and Christian.

President Obama is speaking at West Point's Class of 2010 graduation right now. John is one of 78 West Pointers who have given their all in support of our country. I was blessed to know, work, and play with two of them so far. It is two, too many. However, God's plan is perfect though we may not understand it today. John rest in peace: "And when our work is done,
Our course on earth is run,
May it be said, 'Well Done;
Be Thou At Peace.'"

Be thou at peace COL John McHugh.

Mike
USMA 1986

Anonymous said...

Thank you Scott for this piece.My sincerest condolences to all of you who write so beautifully of John, and to his family. What I remember most from the sidelines as a photographer in high school is how hard he played every game, but also how he gave us that glowing smile afterward no matter what the outcome.
Michael Paul Thomas

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Steve Bechtler said...

Nice Jeff! You have captured John's generous spirit on this page and have paid a tremendous tribute to him.

Sal Ferragine said...

Jeff,
I had the honor of playing on the same baseball team with John for one year. As a sophomore scared to death playing for the varsity in 82,I met John, who was a senior, and he immediately made me feel like part of the team. I looked up to him right away for the example he set on the field as well as for his leadership off it. I was also lucky enough to play on your legion team in 82 (that’s me sitting next to you in the 82 picture) Even at such a young age, he was a tremendous leader. I was only fortunate to be on his team for that one year, but the incredible impact he left on me and so many others will always be there, and because of that, John will live forever.

Daniel said...

Jeff, thank you for your tribute to John. I knew John growing up and we were soccer teammates and classmates at JCHS. John was a tremdous leader and teammate and an even better person. My condolences to his family.
-Danny Ripps

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Kirby said...

Just heard the sad news. I had the honor of serving with John in Iraq. A good and decent man. Always positive and always upbeat. We have lost a good one...

Anonymous said...

He was a good man, of that there is no dispute. I can say with certaintly that he probably didn't see it coming and never felt a thing.

Ramin said...

I was extremely saddened to hear of loss of John. I met John in high school at JCHS and remember him for his openness and his kindness. His character, even at that age, was full of honor and ethics and was the epitome of righteousness. He embodied the attributes of a great man and American. The fact that he served his country does not surprise me. The fact that he defended our rights to no end, does not surprise me. But, I must admit I am saddened because I think the world needs more people like John and with his loss, the world grew a little colder. My condolences to his family and all who knew him> I know he will be missed.

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