By Lauren on Friday, May 24 2013 11:13 am
The word “hero” seems to have lost its significance these days. Today, a gay basketball player (Jason Collins) and a young woman who publicly demands
Many of our true heroes and their stories are often overlooked by the press and garner little limelight. They don't receive encouraging phone calls from the Commander in Chief. They aren't featured on daytime talk shows or the evening news. They aren't invited to campaign with the President for his reelection--and they are content with that, oftentimes never feeling as though they deserve recognition in the first place.
This Memorial Day week, I’d like to highlight a real hero; a man who—inspired by his own love of country and his father’s Marine Corps service—forfeited multiple college scholarships in order to serve the United States of America and paid the ultimate price.
Lance Cpl. Hunter “HD” Hogan was killed in action at the age of 21 in Helmand province, Afghanistan on June 23, 2012. It was his very last mission before his return home. He joined the Corps in October of 2009 and he served proudly with the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division.
Raised in Norman, IN, HD loved rodeo and competed in bull, bareback saddle bronc riding. His love of the sport eventually led to several full-ride college scholarship offers, but H.D. put all of that on hold in order to fulfill his dream of serving his country and to "be like his dad," who also served in the Marine Corps.
“Always the littlest guy”, standing at 5”7’ and weighing 130 lbs., one word to accurately describe the Marine was “tough.” As far back as when HD was in the 4th grade, his father recalled how a horse had fallen on top of his son. Hunter simply stood up, brushed it off, and kept going about his daily activities, which included baling hay and riding bulls. It wasn’t until two weeks later, when he spoke of a pain in his chest, did his father realize he had broken ribs. When he broke his neck at a rodeo in Abilene, KS at the age of 17, the first question HD asked was, “When can I ride again?”
Perhaps the ultimate display of HD’s “toughness” occurred after he completed Marine boot camp. The final stage of Marine training is called “The Crucible.” It is a mentally and physically demanding 54 hour-long event that includes food and sleep deprivation while traveling 48 miles on foot. HD tore his ACL and two MCL’s on the first morning of the Crucible and decided to push through the event. When his drill instructor forced him to seek medical help, Hunter was informed he would need surgery. He insisted that they should just “put some ice on it” so he could get back to his platoon and finish the Crucible. And that’s exactly what he did. HD graduated the Marine Corps on crutches despite his supervisors urging him to seek medical discharge and reap financial benefits from a military disability status.
Hunter was someone people gravitated to. His wit, loyalty and fun-loving spirit made him the kind of friend everyone wanted to have. Family was of utmost importance to Hunter and he spoke often of them while he was overseas. After he was killed, two of Hunter’s fellow Marines rekindled relationships with members of their own family, saying HD’s love of family was what inspired them to reach out.
Hunter's father and wife
The only thing comparable to Steve’s love of country is his love of his only son, HD. All throughout Hunter’s deployment, Steve would scour TV reports and websites (both foreign and domestic) in order to understand what his son was going through during the war. He—along with HD’s wife—also set up an annual bull ride, in memory of the Marine, which takes place in Nebraska every year.
Steve is fearless. Having served the United States in the Marine Corps from 1981 to 1985, he’s undaunted in his efforts to memorialize his son while also continuing to do everything he can to shed light on the blatant hypocrisy of the media for failing to highlight the military death toll in Afghanistan under president Obama. While some veterans say it’s taboo to criticize the President, Steve isn’t concerned about playing by the rules; he’s concerned about the state of our country and the safety of the men and women who serve it. Steve believes the rules of engagement changed dramatically under Barack Obama’s leadership and he says they are contributing to the high number of military fatalities coming out of Afghanistan.
America is a nation founded by freedom loving heroes and today, is protected by heroes like Hunter Hogan. HD will never make headlines for receiving a phone call from President Obama. No one will recognize him as a campaign buddy of the Commander in Chief. Instead, HD will be remembered as a patriot who was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to serve his nation
Here’s to all those who have selflessly died defending the freedoms we so easily take for granted. Here’s to HD—America’s cowboy; and to his father, my personal hero and Marine Corps veteran, Steve Hogan.
May God Bless the United States of America.