Dave Hughes was born in Englewood, Colorado in 1928, as a descendant of 11 generations of Welsh fore-bearers whose grandparents homesteaded the Hughes Cattle Ranch southeast of Denver in 1898. Known as the Lazy TO brand. His grandfather, Eban, became a Colorado State legislator from Elbert County. David grew up learning how to ride, rope and shoot on his family ranch. He never forgot his western roots. He wore a Stetson cowboy hat throughout his life to the end of his days.
Dave lost his father when he was six years old, so he became the man in his family, graduating from Colorado Military School, now Colorado Academy, in 1946. He was too young to serve in World War II, but he saw the importance of military service, so applied and was admitted to West Point, from which he graduated in 1950, just as the Korean War broke out.
Lt Hughes served in combat leading Infantry soldiers of the legendary 7th US Cavalry during its most trying Korean War days. As a young 1st Lieutenant combat leader he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars for Valor, and two Purple Hearts during his first year of hard combat.
The DSC was earned on Hill 347 when Lt. Hughes led the assault. The hill, later called Bloody Baldy, was defended by 600 Chinese soldiers. At the end of 3 days of intense combat. Dave, (the only officer remaining) and 15 of his soldiers marched almost 200 prisoners at gunpoint.
During that war, inspired by his Welsh literary lineage and Celtic roots, he was moved to sketch out on paper many insightful essays and stories about his and his soldier’s war experiences. He wrote about his enduring optimistic viewpoint through the darkest days of the war. His mother circulated his letters and writings. Many were published regionally and nationally, including by both Colorado's Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News. One letter was read on the floor of the US Senate in 1951 by Senator Millikan who had appointed him to West Point. One of his true stories he wrote in 1950 was nationally published in 1953, and was used in a speech by the President of the United States in 2013 on the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Truce. He wrote one eight page letter on shipboard to a wounded comrade while returning to the US in 1952 that was widely reprinted. In 2002 it was included in a compilation of the “50 Greatest Letters From America's Wars.” He retained his ability to write and deliver inspirational speeches all his life.
In 1953 he married Dolores Patricia Simpson at Fort Benning, Georgia, where she was regarded as the “Belle of Fort Benning”. They produced three children, and remained happily married for 57 years until she died in 2011 at age 82.
Partly from his literary talents, he was selected to attain a Master's of Arts Degree at the University of Pennsylvania in 1955, before being assigned to teach English to cadets at West Point. His record as a highly decorated combat officer enabled him to reveal the values in Shakespeare's poetry or Melville's 'Moby Dick' made him popular and respected among cadets. He validated the mission of West Point which is to graduate Soldier-Scholars, not just Soldiers or Scholars.
After military tours in Hawaii, New Zealand, and Thailand he attended a series of advanced officer's schools, including the Army War College. He was selected to be a military advisor to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in 1966 where he drafted key portions of the Secretary's speeches outlining the changes in the uses of American military power that would be needed in future 'counter-insurgent' wars.
As a Lieutenant Colonel he commanded an air mobile Infantry Battalion during the Vietnam War, where he was awarded 14 Air Medals for commanding 70 combat missions, a third Silver Star and the Legion of Merit for his study of the results of the TET Offensive.
In 1968 he was assigned to the 4th “Iron Horse” Mechanized Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado, home state. There he commanded a battalion, a brigade, and was made the combined Chief of Staff of the 4th Division and Post. During that tour he played a key role, under 4 commanding generals in helping Fort Carson pioneer how to attract, and retain, an All Volunteer Army. In 1972 he retired to continue a military career and officially retired at the rank of full colonel after 27 year's military service. He was awarded his second Legion of Merit for his role in making the Volunteer Army work well at Fort Carson.
Through his Army career was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star w/2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart w/1 Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star w/V device and 1 Oak Leaf Cluster, Legion of Merit w/1 Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal w/14 Oak Leaf Clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Combat Infantry Badge w/Star, the Greek Cross of War Class C and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry w/Palm.
In the mid 1970s he headed the regional celebration of the combined national Bicentennial and Colorado's Centennial, planning and participating in such activities as the simultaneous climb by 100 parties and 640 individuals of all 55 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado on Colorado's August 1st, 1976 100th birthday.
Using his insights into a changing America and the revolutionary emergence of personal computing and global digital connectivity he spearheaded the revitalization of the declining Westside of Colorado Springs into its now-vibrant Old Colorado City National Historic District, based on small businesses, the preservation of its 1890's historical buildings, and a series of annual history-rooted public events. He co-founded the Old Colorado City Historical Society.
He pioneered the civic uses of personal computers in developing Electronic Democracy, and in 1982 he delivered the first recorded online US College-credit Course in the world for local Colorado Technical University. He achieved an international reputation for his electronic pioneering which led to his being awarded a series of substantial National Science Foundation Grants over a seven year period. This funded research by him for extending education via emerging wireless technologies. Dave utilized computer bulletin-boards and then the internet towards novel undertakings such as linking an MIT Physicist in Boston to one room school-house students in rural Montana, teaching the math and new science of Chaos Theory. He also supported the work of field scientists in the jungles of Puerto Rico, the tundra of Alaska, and on the blistering deserts of northern New Mexico – applying wireless technology in ways so researchers could retrieve scientific data from remote and difficult places.
In 1993 Dave was awarded Silicon Valley's prestigious Electronic Freedom Foundation's (EFF) Pioneer Award.
In 1997 Dave successfully secured the EFF Award for the 40-50s movie actress Hedy Lamarr, for her patent of a pioneering technology design that was the precursor to modern day spread spectrum communications that exists in cell phones to Bluetooth.
From 1998 through 2003 Welsh National Assembly provided funds to establish wireless internet connectivity across rural Wales – the ancestral home of his forebearers.
He concluded his electronic pioneering when, at 75, he trekked to 15,000 feet near the base of Mount Everest to help Sherpa youth learn Oral English via wireless and satellite links to a Nepalese-fluent Sherpa working in Pittsburgh, PA.
In 2004 Dave was named Distinguished Graduate of West Point by the West Point Association of Graduates - a high honor that no other West Point graduate in Colorado has yet received.
He is survived by his sister Bette Hughes, three children – David Hughes III, Rebecca Palmedo and Edward Hughes, and five grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers donations are requested for the WestSide Community Center, 1628 W Bijou St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904 (http://ourwestside.org).