Rachael Hugo

Rachael Hugo

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Spc. Rachael L. Hugo, 24, of Madison, Wis., died Oct. 5 in Bayji, Iraq, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked her unit using an improvised explosive device and small arms fire. She was assigned to the 303rd Military Police Company, 97th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade, U.S. Army Reserve, Jackson, Mich.

The medic reached into her pocket and removed an Army honors coin she received for saving a sergeant’s life in Iraq in February. She told her dad, Kermit Hugo, she had carried it with her ever since then to make sure she didn’t misplace it before she had a chance to give it to him.

“She said, ‘Dad, I got something for you,’ and she pulled that coin out of her pocket,” Kermit Hugo said Monday.

On Friday, Rachael Hugo found herself in a similar situation to the one in February, but with much different results.

Hugo, 24, of Madison, was killed when she went to help injured colleagues after they were hit by an improvised explosive device and came under small-arms fire in Bayji, north of Baghdad. She was deployed just over a year ago and was expected to return home in November.

Hugo’s family members gathered at the Army Reserve Center to speak publicly Monday about her life for the first time since she died.

“She saw death, destruction, despair – and a lot of good things, too,” said Kermit Hugo. “Despite it all, she always kept her head held high.”

He said she was a dedicated soldier who made it clear to her family that she loved what she did. Early in her deployment, she sent an e-mail that said, “This is what I choose to do, and being a medic is what I live to do.”

Her mother, Ruth, said: “She felt that was her niche in life, helping people. She wanted to serve her country.”

Her father, Kermit Hugo, told the story of how his daughter saved the life of a comrade during an engagement earlier this year.

A sergeant was wounded during the engagement and Rachael Hugo volunteered to go to his aid.

“She told the guys to cover her, ” Kermit Hugo said. “From the sounds of it, there were rounds going off from the Humvee. She stayed with him. She kept treating him. She just did her job. ”

Hugo, 24, was a specialist in the Army Reserve with the 303rd Military Police Company based in Jackson, Mich., part of the 89th Military Police Brigade. She was deployed to Iraq in September 2006 and was scheduled to return to the U.S. next month.

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.

The funeral of a Madison woman killed in Iraq earlier this month will be held next week.

The U.S. Army said the remains of 24-year-old Spc. Rachael Hugo will arrive Saturday at the Wisconsin General Aviation Services building in Madison.

Military officials have said the combat medic died Oct. 5 when her U.S. Army Reserve unit was attacked by insurgents with a roadside bomb and small arms fire in Bayji, Iraq.

The wake will be held Tuesday on 10/16/2007 in Madison and the funeral on Wednesday on 10/17/2007 in Monona.

The former high school cheerleader served with the 303rd Military Police Company based in Jackson, Mich.

Cpl. Hugo was born on May 13, 1983 and passed away on Friday, October 5, 2007.

Spc. Hugo was a resident of Madison, Wisconsin at the time of her passing.

She attended Sandburg Elementary School. She graduated from Madison East High School in 2001. Rachael attended Winona State University for one year for bachelor’s degree in nursing.

She joined the U.S. Army Reserves.

Funeral services will be held at IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY CATHOLIC CHURCH, 5101 Schofield St., Monona, at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2007. Burial will be at Roselawn Memorial Park. Visitation will be held at GUNDERSON EAST FUNERAL HOME, 5203 Monona Drive from 4 p.m until 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2007.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Spc. Rachael L. Hugo Memorial Fund, which will be used exclusively to support our troops and their families, c/o Associated Bank, East Towne Branch, 4402 East Towne Blvd., Madison, WI 53704.

Spc. Rachael L. Hugo, 24, of Madison, Wis., died Oct. 5 in Bayji, Iraq, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked her unit using an improvised explosive device and small arms fire. She was assigned to the 303rd Military Police Company, 97th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade, U.S. Army Reserve, Jackson, Mich.

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Madison
10/05/2007
Age: 24
Incident Location: Bayji, Iraq
Branch: Army
Rank: Corporoal
Unit: 303rd Military Police Company, 97th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade, U.S. Army Reserve
Units Base: Jackson, Michigan