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By C. Jayden Smith
A San Clemente woman who has spent nearly three decades volunteering and supporting fellow members of the military community was honored with the Irene Ferguson Marine Wife Recognition Award in San Diego on Saturday, August 20.
Kyp Hughes, whose husband, Shawn, is a master gunnery sergeant assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) based at Camp Pendleton, received the award from the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation (FLHF).
The foundation annually recognizes the spouse of an active duty Marine for outstanding service to the United States Marine Corps, community and families.
“His passion for the well-being of Marines and Sailors attached to MEUs provides needed support to active duty personnel and their families during deployments, various family challenges, vacations, community events and much more,” said FLHF said of Hughes in a press release.
Since June 2010, she has served as the Deployment Readiness Coordinator (DRS) for the 11th and 13th MEU at Camp Pendleton, with the goal of educating and preparing families of Marines and Sailors for the inevitable mission and other unexpected life events.
The DRCs, which operate within the Marines’ unit, Personal and Family Readiness Program, serve as the communications hub for the UPFRP and provide training and support to families.
“It varies every day,” Hughes said of his work in an interview with the San Clemente Hours. “Everyday is an exciting new day in this role because you just don’t know what’s to come.”
Each MEU’s DRCs support people across the country, and Hughes noted that their program has expanded significantly to not only support spouses, but also parents, grandparents, cousins and all kinds of parents.
Some of his day-to-day activities include training the families of those preparing for deployment, providing pre-deployment briefings, arranging daycare for children 4 and under, and organizing family days to help people to network and have a good time.
Additionally, coordinators must be prepared to be there for families impacted by births, parental deaths, or COVID-19, which Hughes said especially stressed military families who were already dealing with separation from their relatives.
She added that the program has only recently returned to holding in-person events so families can meet others in the same situation.
There are many aspects to supporting families, according to Hughes, in that meeting loved ones and answering questions face-to-face is easier than reassuring a mother concerned about the world her young son will soon be joining.
Some just need a resource, and others need the comfort of knowing their loved ones are safe even when they don’t hear from them.
Hughes said she is the person a family can call to hear him say, “Hey your loved one is doing great; they’re just out of communication right now. Everything is going well. »
His history of volunteer work, as well as his instrumental involvement in Yorba Linda’s adoption of the 11th MEU and its adoption committee, led the committee to nominate Hughes for the award.
She said she was honored to be recognized, that she appreciated the work of Major Glenn Ferguson, USMC, who established the award in memory of his wife, Irene, and that she was honored that the committee of adoption recommended that his name be bestowed.
“It means the world to me, to be nominated by people who know me, know my family, know our lifestyle, appreciate it and respect it,” Hughes said.
In her husband’s 26 years of active duty, the Hughes family has seen 10 deployments and seen two children graduate from San Clemente High School and grow into adults. The years have passed quickly, Hughes said, and have been intensely busy.
She added that time flies especially quickly during the days of combat deployment, when families wait to hear bad news, and she has resorted to alleviating her fears by becoming the support system for others in a group where she and her husband were often the older couple.
“Just doing my best to support others, it really passes the time for me,” Hughes said. “I don’t have a lot of time to worry and stress about what might happen, because I’m supporting everyone, (so) they can get through this.”
With so many experiences of death and tragedy as a Marine bride, she learned not to take life for granted.
“Do what you can to help others,” she said. “Be nice and be prepared; you never know when something can happen directly to you or affect you directly.
C. Jayden Smith
C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism at the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothers his black lab named Shadow.
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