Turning Tragedy Into Legacy

Colonel John McHugh

McHugh family members welcomed Colonel John McHugh home from a year-long deployment in June 2008. Pictured, left to right, Kristen, Kelly, John, Maggie, Connie, David, Michael and his wife Angela. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE MCHUGH FAMILY

As our Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund name suggests, we are inspired by the memory of Colonel John “Johnny Mac” McHugh. On May 18, 2010, Army Colonel McHugh was killed in action while serving our country during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan when his military convoy was attacked by a suicide bomber. It was unthinkable that a senior Army officer who had served with distinction for 24 years was suddenly gone.

The shocking news traveled quickly through our West Point class, with many of us learning that John had five children—and a grandchild! A small group of classmates—all now on our board of directors—began raising money for the McHugh family. The main intent of the fundraising effort was to ensure the McHugh children could all go to college. A few years passed, and this group of caring classmates thought they could help many more military families through their passion to make a difference and give back.

On April 10, 2014, Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund was formed and officially designated by the IRS as a nonprofit organization. The informal fundraising effort that had taken place in the four years after the tragic loss of Johnny Mac was the foundation for building the new organization. Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund gives back through education—the organization stays true to the original mission of the group that helped the McHugh family get back on its feet and begin recovering and healing from their profound loss. In many ways, “Johnny Mac”—both the nickname of our hero and the name of our organization—has helped all of us carry on.

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