Now 86, Westside leader, two-war veteran surprised he's lasted so longJust turned 86, Westside resident Dave Hughes is a retired Army colonel who fought in the Korean and Vietnam wars, was chief of staff at Fort Carson, led the revitalization of Old Colorado City in the late 1970s and '80s and has been involved in many pivotal Westside actions and activities.
Palmedo: Happy Birthday - 86 yrs old! Did you ever imagine getting to this age?
Hughes: No. I thought first I would freeze to death in North Korea during the month long minus-40-degree retreat from the Yalu River in 1950. Then I was sure the jig was up when a huge 4.2 mortar short round fired by our own troops whistled down ( I recognized by its sound what was coming down right at me) and hit only a yard away (but its fuze broke off and it never exploded). Then it should have been over when a Chinese grenade landed next to me - but its head went one way and the handle went the other, while I just got a slight leg wound... and my first Purple Heart. Then in 1951 I was sure it would be all over after all six of my officers had been wounded or killed, and I ran out of ammunition making a final assault alone on Hill 347, with only grenades in hand. The Chinese seemed to be more afraid of me on top than I was of them. So the 15 of us left from the 189 we had started with took 192 prisoners of war.
Then I was sure, during one of those 70 Huey heliborne combat assaults I made in Vietnam in 1966, that the odds were that I would be shot down and die in a crash, or be shot up by AK-47s from Viet Cong on the ground - as two of my staff were as they were sitting next to me. They survived. I didn't even get a Purple Heart in Vietnam.
Then I thought my heart would give out when I was 80. But I suppose I may live as long as my grandmother Hughes did - 90. Bored, fighting knaves and fools in Washington.
Westside Pioneer article/courtesy of Dave Hughes