Afghanistan flight terminal named after Sgt. Buddy James “Doc” Hughie

By: 
Cpt. Leanna Litsch
1/180th Cavalry Regiment

Officials at New Kabul Compound stand alongside Oklahoma Army National Guard members of 1st Squadron, 180th Cavalry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, as a significant plaque is unveiled during a dedication ceremony at the newly remodeled NKC flight terminal on Friday in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The “Hughie Terminal” at NKC is named after the late Poteau resident, Sgt. Buddy James “Doc” Hughie, a medic and member of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 180th Infantry Regiment, who was killed in action during his second tour to the country while attached to Bravo Company, Feb. 19, 2007 in Kamdesh, Afghanistan.

Hughie, a son, brother, husband and father, was only 25 when he gave the ultimate sacrifice for his nation, and the impact he made on those around him will forever remain.

"For me, Feb. 19 was a very tough day, not only because we lost a fellow soldier and friend, but like Sgt. Hughie, I had recently had my firstborn child," said Sgt. 1st Class James Smith, who deployed with Sgt. Hughie in 2007 and is currently serving with the 180th in Afghanistan.

"Feb. 19 was the day I realized the sacrifice that Sgt. Hughie and others like him make. It didn't seem fair that I was going home to my child and family, but Sgt. Hughie wasn't."

Currently, members of the 180th, now known as 1st Squadron, 180th Cavalry Regiment, are serving in Kabul, Afghanistan as part of the Kabul Security Force, headquartered at NKC, in support of the NATO-led train, advise and assist mission, Operation Resolute Support, marking this as the first time in 10 years the 180th has deployed to Afghanistan.

“What a better way to really signify our 10-year return and dedicate this to Sgt. Hughie,” said Lt. Col. Michael Urrutia, commander of 1st Squadron, 180th Cavalry Regiment.

Hughie deployed twice to Afghanistan; once in 2002 to 2003, and again from 2006 to 2007. He also responded to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005 alongside hundreds of Oklahoma National Guard Soldiers and Airmen.

“During our time in country, some of us had been under fire, hit with roadside bombs and come away with minor bumps and bruises," Smith said. "Some of us had experienced casualties from partner units and friendly forces, but on Feb. 19, 2007, we lost one of our own."

Since the war began in 2001, the OKARNG has lost 19 soldiers in both Afghanistan and Iraq. As the squadron members wrap up their deployment and prepare to move home, they leave a forever mark of one of their own.

Now, everyone who passes through NKC each day will have the honor of seeing Hughie’s plaque mounted on the wall — a meaningful reminder of the sacrifice of those selflessly serving in the heart of the nation where those like Buddy took their last breath.

"Sgt. Hughie made the ultimate sacrifice to help those who could not help themselves," Smith said. "I am honored to have served with the 180th, Sgt. Hughie, and others like him."

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