For Christmas, Marine combat pilot thanks Maryland mayor for city flag gift
By TED HENDRICKS | The Aegis (Tribune News Service) | Published: December 22, 2016
Last Christmas, Marine Corps Capt. Kyle McHugh was stationed in Bahrain as part of the Attack Squadron 223, also known at the Great American Bulldogs.
This Christmas, he will be in Havre de Grace, Md. enjoying the holidays with his family.
McHugh stopped by the Havre de Grace City Council meeting Monday night to not only make a special presentation to Mayor Bill Martin and the City Council, but also to thank the mayor for the gift of a Havre de Grace flag he sent while McHugh was deployed.
McHugh said the mayor "asked that it be flown somewhere I was."
Combat is where the Marine captain was, he said, flying 20 separate sorties and logging 135 combat flight hours. A sortie is a single combat mission.
The Havre de Grace city flag was with McHugh throughout every hour of that campaign.
At Christmas, the postal service and some companies deliver mail and other packages that generally brighten the holiday for the recipient. That wasn't the case with him last Christmas, McHugh said.
"You're delivering a different kind of mail," he told the mayor and City Council, "to people who don't really want it."
He delivered all of those unwanted packages with the Havre de Grace flag accompanying him, he said.
"One of the scariest moments I had with this flag," he said, "I was about 600 miles from any place I would consider friendly" and his aircraft was running low on fuel. But, as was obvious by his appearance Monday, the crisis was averted.
The mayor and City Council offered McHugh their well wishes for the holidays and their thanks for his service.
"As mayor, I've probably given out over a hundred flags and never had one come back," Martin said. "Very proud to have that one back."
As he gave his Christmas greetings in the closing minutes of Monday's meeting, the mayor came back not only to McHugh, but also to all of the McHughs serving the country.
"We must all think of all the men and women who are deployed," he said.
©2016 The Aegis (Bel Air, Md.)
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Marine combat pilot Capt. Kyle McHugh, third from left, stands with Mayor Bill Martin and Havre de Grace City Council members during a visit to City Hall earlier this week. A Havre de Grace resident, McHugh carried a city flag Martin gave him last Christmas on his missions in the Middle East. Council President Stephen Gamatoria, right, holds the flag.
COURTESY OF ADAM RYBCZYNSKI