Fred Hudgeons was born in Gallup, New Mexico in 1944. In 1957 his family moved to Grant, NM and Fred went through Junior High School there. They moved again, to Santa Fe, and he was in High School there when Santa Fe celebrated the 350th anniversary of its establishment as a villa by Spanish officials in 1610 (making Santa Fe the oldest capital city in America ). Part of that celebration included a company of paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division jumping in at the local airport. Fred was there and he was impressed. Later he got his parents to sign a consent form so he could enlist in the Army. He signed up, unit of choice, 101st Airborne Division. Still only seventeen when he took the oath in Albuquerque and entered active duty on November 30, 1961, he would finish his high school education later by GED.
He completed Basic and Infantry Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Ord, California in April 1962 and was sent to Fort Benning, Georgia for Airborne training. After earning his jump wings, Fred arrived at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, home of the 101st Airborne in June 1962 and was further assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry in 2nd Brigade. Only eight weeks into his airborne career, he sustained injuries to his left leg during a tactical training jump that took him off parachute status permanently. He was soon put on orders for Korea.
Fred Hudgeons had joined the Army to be in the paratroopers and he went through the training and did everything necessary to qualify. That goal was cut short only two months into his first and what would be his only airborne assignment. But, Fred soldiered on in an Army career for the next 24 years in peacetime and combat assignments that took him all over the world. Here is a brief look at that those unit assignments and places.
He served a 13 month tour in Korea in 2nd Battle Group, 32nd Infantry, 7th Infantry Division, then returned to the United States in 1963, assigned to the 2nd Armored Division at Fort Hood, Texas. He arrived just in time to go with the 2nd Battalion, 41st Infantry when the entire division deployed to Germany on Operation Big Lift, an early version of what later became the Reforger annual training exercises in Europe. Soon after their return to Fort Hood, In December 1963, Fred reenlisted for Fort Ord, California. He was with the Trainfire Committee there, during the early years of difficulties with the Trainfire system, until receiving an assignment to Hawaii in 1965.
Shortly after arrival in his new home at Schofield Barracks with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division, he was sent on a 90 day TDY training mission to Vietnam. He arrived back from temporary duty only to go back again, that time for good, as the entire division deployed to CU CHI in January 1966. He was wounded by a sniper February 2, 1966, only a few days after arrival. He was shot through both feet, the bullet going through his left ankle and across the bones in his right ankle.
With massive damage to his left ankle, Fred was medevacd to Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Denver, Colorado. He says, I couldnt do anything but crawl at first. I had to learn how to walk all over again, and I was in Fitzsimmons for a full year. Then I had to fight to avoid being medically retired. The medical board agreed to let me out on a limited duty profile, but only close to the hospital where it would be easy for them to call me back for reevaluation. So, I trained AITs at Fort Carson until 1968 and then received orders for Europe to the Berlin Command, despite the fact that I was still on Temporary Profile. In fact I remained on Temporary Profile for a number of years.
Fred arrived in his assignment to the 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry of the Berlin Brigade, but after being there only about three months all the medical profiles, he among them, were screened out and reassigned elsewhere in United States Army Europe (USAREUR). Fred was sent to Aschaffenburg and the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division.
Describing it today, Fred says, Aschaffenburg was a good assignment, but the next year, 1969, I volunteered for an inter-theatre transfer to go back to Vietnam. I was assigned to the 1st Logistics Command and sent to the Long Binh Depot where I became the ranking NCO for the Depots Open Storage. That was the Armys biggest Open Storage Area anywhere in the world at that time and I was supervisor of the work force of 97 U.S. military and 63 Vietnamese civilian employees. In early 1970, March or April, I dont recall the date, it was during the night and I was in the barracks when we came under attack with mortar rounds being fired into our area. I was hit in the left leg by shrapnel and was quickly treated in the hospital there at Long Binh. It was a substantial wound that has left me with a ten inch scar, but I refused to stay in the hospital, I didnt intend to go through that again. I went back to my unit the next day and resumed my duties, hobbling around on crutches for about eight or nine weeks. When my tour was up in 1970, I rotated home to Fort Carson, Colorado
Fred was a Platoon Sergeant in the 620th Supply Depot at Fort Carson until 1975, then was sent to Fort Greely, Alaska to the Artic Test Center of Materiel Readiness Command. In 1977 he was assigned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky working in the 101st Airborne Divisions Materiel Management Center (DMMC) and he went with them on two deployments to Europe for Reforger exercises, and once to Panama on TDY, training the units there. In 1979, Fred received orders back to Germany.
He was part of the 1st Infantry Divisions overrep group stationed near Stuttgart, in Boblingen, Germany. While there he met SGT Laurie Anne Yahne, and they were married in Switzerland during that overseas tour. In 1981 they returned to the United States where Fred was assigned to Fort Sam Houston, Texas and the Office of the Post Commander, 5th Army Honor Guard. He retired from the Army in San Antonio on March 31, 1985 and immediately moved to the Austin area to begin work at his second career as construction supervisor with MARCAM Contracting, where he remained employed at this writing some 25 years later. He joined the Military Order of the Purple Heart as soon as he discovered our local area chapter, and served as Commander of Chapter 1919 in 2012-2013 until illness prevented his continued service. This month PATRIOT BULLETIN proudly salutes Patriot Fred G. Hudgeons. Fred Hudgeons passed away on December 15, 2015 and is survived by his wife Laurie Anne.