44 THE QUEENS COURIER • MEMORIAL DAY • MAY 23, 2019 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
D-DAY VET’S HIGH HONOR
Whitestone parade’s grand marshal helped save Europe in WWII
BY CARLOTTA MOHAMED
Leading the way at this year’s Whitestone
Memorial Day Parade is grand marshal
Corporal John McHugh Sr., a U.S. army
veteran who served during World War II.
McHugh, a 95-year-old Whitestone
resident, who was placed in the First
Infantry Division and fought in the Battle
of Normandy, France, in the D-Day invasion,
is honored to lead the parade on
May 27 at noon at Whitestone Memorial
Park, located at 149th Street and 15th
“He was always my hero — his bravery
and patriotism,” said McHugh’s son,
John Jr. “People like my father who fought
in that way gave us the country we had
today. I don’t know what this world would
be like if we didn’t have people like my
father. He is up on a pedestal that I
couldn’t reach if I tried. If I thought that
I could be half the man my father was, I
would be happy. He’s a great man.”
Aft er graduating from Morris High
School in the Bronx in 1942, McHugh
and his friends enlisted in the army aft er
the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He completed
basic training at Fort McClelland
in Alabama and was shipped out of New
York on the Queen Elizabeth to the UK.
“Th ey were very patriotic,” said John
Jr. “At that time every young man in the
country wanted to go fi ght in the way.
Th ey felt they had to protect the country,
and he felt that he had to protect his
Before landing in Normandy on D-Day
on June 6, 1944, the soldiers were throwing
up their breakfast all over each other
in the cramped confi nes of the landing
craft s. Th e front of McHugh’s landing craft
dropped down at around 7:30 a.m. and he
along with 10 to 12 other soldiers jumped
off into the water up to their necks. Th e
landing craft exploded behind him aft er
being hit with a German 88 shell.
McHugh, 20, was carrying the tripod of
a .30-caliber machine gun and the soldier
carrying his gun was killed. Th e young
soldier was left without his machine gun
crawling on the beach under fi re all day.
Aft er D-Day, McHugh and others in
the First Infantry Division, spent months
fi ghting the Nazis at the historic battles
of Hurtgen Forest, Aachen, Crucifi x Hill
and the Bulge.
While stationed in Europe, McHugh
sent all of his money he earned back
home to his mother, a widow. In 1945,
for seven months aft er the war ended,
McHugh was in the Army of Occupation
before he was honorably discharged and
During his tour of duty, the World War
II veteran became a recipient of several
medals and awards such as the Silver Star
for gallantry in action, and the Bronze
Star and European Th eater of Operations
ribbon, which features four bronze stars
signifying the major battles he was in
and a silver arrowhead for the invasion of
Additionally, McHugh received two
presidential unit citations for the battle
of Crucifi x Hill and Hurtgen Forest.
Belgium recognized him with the Fort
Eger badge for action during the war in
In 2014, the World War II hero was
inducted in the state Senate Veterans Hall
of Fame and was one of the honorees
at the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial
Th e Patriach of the McHugh Family
was born on March 6, 1924, in Union
City, NJ, to Catherine Martin and John
McHugh. He is also known as Dad, Pop,
Uncle Johnny and is a fi rst-generation
John’s grandfather, James McHugh,
fought in the Civil War and returned to
Ireland, where he lived to be 103 years
old. His father, John McHugh, fought in
WWI. In the Argonne forest, he received
six bullet wounds in his thigh and side.
He laid out in no man’s land for three days
where he was gassed and developed pleurisy
pneumonia before being discharged
and sent back home.
McHugh moved to Whitestone in 1955
with his wife, Rosie McGee, where they
raised their three sons. McHugh still
resides in Whitestone today and has three
grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
He lead a career as a Transit
Authority conductor and a private investigator,
and recently retired last March
working in security.
In June of 1987, John and his sons
returned to Normandy where they stood
on the beach looking up at the cliff s that
had to be climbed on D-Day. He spent
time alone walking through the National
Cemetery looking for friends who had
not made it through D-Day.
Members of Community Board 7
recently approved a street co-naming in
honor of McHugh, that was spearheaded
by his cousin Kevin Shields and Kim
Cody, president of the Whitestone Civic
Taxpayer’s Association. Th ey’re planning
to schedule the ceremony on June 6, the
anniversary of D-Day, 75 years aft er the
invasion of Normandy, said John Jr.
Photo courtesy of John McHugh Jr.
The D-Day landing on June 6, 1944
Corporal John McHugh Sr.