Monday, October 08, 2007

Rachael L. Hugo dies 'of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked her unit using an improvised explosive device and small arms fire'

The family of a Madison woman killed last week while serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq said on Monday that she was helping injured soldiers when she died.

The family of U.S. Army Spc. Rachael Hugo, 24, spoke with the media on Monday at the U.S. Army Reserve Center located at 1402 S. Park St., and recalled their loved one who worked as a medic. Her parents said that she had won an award for saving another soldier's life earlier in her tour.

Flanked by family members, Hugo's parents and 19-year-old brother spoke about Hugo's life and death, WISC-TV reported.

According to military officials, Hugo died on Friday in the northern Iraqi city of Bayji after an attack on her unit. Authorities said that insurgents attacked her unit using an improvised explosive device and small-arms fire.

A 2001 graduate from Madison East High School, she had been serving as a combat medic with the U.S. Army Reserve in Iraq since September 2006 and she was just weeks away from coming home before Friday's attack.

Her parents said that her heroic attempts to help injured soldiers last Friday were the second time she faced danger. Just a few months ago, she received a commendation for saving the life of a sergeant when their unit came under attack.

Her father, Kermit Hugo, said that his daughter is credited with saving the life of a sergeant who was badly wounded by a roadside bomb several months ago.

"She waited for them to get things secured, but she couldn't wait," he said. "And she just told the guys, 'Cover me!' Ran up there and started treating him.

"We were told she basically saved his life," he said.

On Monday, he displayed a commemorative coin that she was given by her superiors for her actions. His daughter gave him the coin when she was on leave in Madison in May for her birthday.

Kermit Hugo said that the coin meant a lot to his daughter.

"She carried it with her everywhere she went. She wanted to be sure it didn't get lost so she could bring it home to me and give it to me," he said.

Hugo's mother said that her daughter shared her excitement about coming home through daily e-mails.

"She did a lot of online clothes shopping. And I kind of chewed her out for it. But she said, 'Mom, I'm going to be so ecstatic to be home as it is.'"

Her family said that they consider her a hero.

"A hero is the way I will always see you, a legend in our community," said her brother Scott Hugo.

"She was just a wonderful, outstanding daughter. You just couldn't ask for anything better," Kermit Hugo said.

Hugo was assigned to the 303rd Military Police Company, U.S. Army Reserve, in Jackson, Mich. Her family said that Hugo was studying to be a nurse and had been accepted at Viterbo College in La Crosse.

Army officials said that there will be an investigation to determine exactly what killed Hugo.

Seventy-nine Wisconsin residents have now died as a result of service in Iraq or associated duties in Iraq. Another six Wisconsin residents have died as a result of service in Afghanistan.

FromWISC 3