In a purely technical sense, Lieutenant Jack Hugele was drafted into the Army. In reality, he volunteered for the draft. He knew he was going to join the army but volunteered to be drafted so that someone who didn’t want to go would not end up getting drafted. His decision to volunteer was purely patriotic. He had seen too many other people his age head off to fight, some of them not coming back, and didn’t think it was right that he was safe at home. It was with a deep sense of needing to serve that he volunteered to be drafted.
His original goal was to go to flight school but his eyesight did not pass the test, so he volunteered for Special Forces instead. Upon graduating from training, Lt. Hugele was assigned to the 10th Special Forces Group in Northern Europe. It was there that he and his teammates were trained to deploy a trash can sized nuclear device. Jack wasn’t really sure why they were training on nuclear weapons in Europe when there was a war being fought in Vietnam, and it wasn’t until many years later he found out they were tasked with blowing up the Fulda Gap should Russia ever try to invade Western Europe.
But Lt. Hugele did not join the Army to prepare for hypothetical wars when there was a real war actually being fought. When a need for Second Lieutenants in Vietnam arose, Lt. Hugele volunteered to go. Unfortunately, there were no Special Forces slots open so Jack chose to go to the Air Cavalry instead. He was then immediately assigned to Apache Troop. The assignment was a tough one for a couple of reasons. Having come over from Special Forces, Jack did not have a lot of the Air Cav training his troops did, and now he was in charge. He was also faced with a tough situation in that he was taking over for a well-liked Lieutenant, Gary Qualley, who had just been seriously wounded in combat.
Jack says what served him well is that he did not go into it with the hubris of thinking he knew it all because he was the Lieutenant. He was taking over a very experienced team that had already seen a lot of combat. Lieutenant Hugele knew it was his job to learn the Apache Troop way so he could best lead them. He must have learned his lessons well because he went on to lead Apache Troop in some of their most memorable battles. He was also one of the featured soldiers in the now famous CBS News report from their battle on March 25th, 1970.
Although, he does want to clear up some confusion about the, “Blue didn’t want to come to Vietnam, and he’d rather be a businessman than a soldier” statement in the report. He had told Mr. Threlkeld that once he was assigned to Special Forces with a focus in Special Ops and Advising, he did not think he was going to be sent to Vietnam. When he did get his orders, he assumed it would be as an an AVRN Advisor as a member of a Special Forces A-Team. He was also in college studying Business Administration when he was drafted so that was all taken out of context and rolled up into, “He’d rather be a businessman.” In truth, Lt. Hugele did not yet know what he wanted to be. He did know that he wanted to be in Vietnam though. A person who didn’t want to be there would not have volunteered to be drafted and volunteered to leave Special Forces to go to Vietnam.
In service to his country, Lieutenant Hugele was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, an Army Commendation Medal, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and four Air Medals. He now lives in Texas where he still works as a financial advisor.