One-hundred years ago, the United States lost over 116,000 of their fathers, brothers and sons during the First World War. Next weekend, Midlothian will recognize those brave souls alongside other military heroes during the annual tribute dinner.
Hosted by the city since 2009, the ninth annual Veterans Tribute Dinner will take place at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11 at the Midlothian Conference Center, and will honor those who have served. Special Events Coordinator Gina Moore said this year’s dinner would recognize the 100th anniversary of World War I, which ended on Nov. 11, 1918.
“One of our veteran chaplains pointed that out and asked if we could put that as part of the program,” Moore said. “The committee said absolutely. We should acknowledge that.”
The guest speaker this year is retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Thomas Hughes, who has served for a total of 23 years. A reserve soldier that went on two tours throughout Iraq, Hughes said he followed his family’s footsteps when he joined the military.
“My great uncle fought in WWII, and I followed in his footsteps,” Hughes said. “He landed on the beach in Normandy, France on D-Day.”
Hughes said he enlisted in 1988 while he lived in Iredell. He said he had to leave for Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri for boot camp.
“Everything familiar in life up to then was stripped away and replaced with the army’s way of doing things,” he said. “Their strategies for peak performance in heat and desert environments stayed with me.”
As a reserve soldier, Hughes didn’t get to see many exciting places until after 9/11. On his first tour in Balad, Hughes was a military police officer in charge of security for support units. He said most of his service included mostly desk work and daily briefings.
Hughes said he got to see much more action up-close during his second tour in Hawijah.
“I was a Civil Affairs A-Team Chief and company XO,” he said. “We managed relations between the Iraqi leadership and army units. Our mission was to assist the locals, helping them develop a sustainable economy.”
After his service, Hughes returned to his civilian job with the Fort Worth Police Department. Hughes said the highlight of his experience was surviving his second tour with his troops and coming home safely.
“I enjoyed serving my country as an army officer while simultaneously serving my community as a police officer,” he said. “Family and friends made my service possible and bearable. My wife was always there for me and made coming home my goal every time I was away.”
To register for the tribute dinner, go online at www.midlothian.tx.us.
David Dunn, @DavidDunnInTX