Miss. National Guard Sergeant Nick Hughes of Batesville was named Non-Commissioned Officer of the Month during March following his actions south of Baghdad.
During a search for weapons, Hughes disabled a vehicle at a roadblock while sparing the lives of the vehicle’s occupants.
Hughes is a member of the third platoon of Viper Company (A Co.) of the 2-198th AR.
Hughes is the son of Norman and Nancy Hughes of the Central Academy community. He is a graduate of South Panola High School.
According to Nancy Hughes, Nick is currently home from Iraq on a two-week leave. He will return May 11, a day after his one-year anniversary to the former Jennifer Swindoll of Batesville.
"I love my son, and I’m proud of him for his service to our country," Nancy Hughes said. "I’m also proud of Jennifer. She’s stuck with him and supported him."
According to Internet reports by the sergeant’s company commander, Viper Co. "was specially chosen to conduct a mission just south of Baghdad as we were needed to assist a sister battalion in another city, Iskanderia."
Until that mid-March mission, the company commander had described the month as "somewhat peaceful," with the company conducting support operations in the Najaf area as local Iraqi political leaders experimented with the transition of authority following the January elections.
Following a three-day preparation, Viper Company moved to a forward operations base called Kalsu on a mission to "find and confiscate illegal weapons, suspected to be anything from pistols to artillery shells," the company commander stated.
"The missions for the platoons were different. Two platoons had to man ‘blocking positions’ to prevent any insurgents from escaping.
"The other platoon was assigned the task of manning a patrol base in Haswa and from there conduct dismounted presence patrols," the Internet report continued.
Hughes distinguished himself during the operation by setting an example on how to utilize large firepower within the rules of engagement and escalation of force.
The Batesville sergeant directed a blocking action at a roadblock when a vehicle failed to comply with their directions, successfully disabling the vehicle without "collateral damage."
"The occupants of the vehicle were detained," the captain’s report stated.
Other Viper Company soldiers singled out for recognition during March included Soldier of the Month Jamie Lamont Chandler of Phebe.
Rodney Aaron Edwards of Rolling Fork was promoted to first lieutenant, and Phillip Zimmer of Mobile, Ala.; John C.. Branson of Southaven, Kyle R. Stegall of Sugarland, Texas, and James Caulfield of Water Valley were awarded Army Achievement Medals for their conduct during National Training Center rotation.