HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- At times pausing to recompose himself, Lt. Col. Hugh Darville recalled the challenges he encountered and the successes he achieved throughout his 26-year military career during his retirement ceremony July 20 at Bob Jones Auditorium.
He leaves the Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, after serving as its deputy commander and interim commander for the past four years.
Throughout his farewell address, Darville voiced how especially appreciative he was of the unwavering support he and his family received from the engineer and Army community through multiple deployments and various assignments.
Some of those assignments include overseeing humanitarian assistance and contingency construction projects; highlighting the importance of architects to Army engineer leadership; planning, design and construction of a training complex in Botswana, three theater missile defense sites in Israel, an orphanage in Moldova, and the renovation of 29 schools in Iraq, a regional hospital in Bulgaria, and two schools and three clinics in Macedonia.
A highlight of his career, Darville was responsible for the design of the master plan and key facilities for Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo – the largest contingency construction project since Vietnam, housing 7,000 servicemembers – setting the standard for future contingency basecamp designs.
It was at an assignment as the director of Training and Leader Development at the Army Engineer School, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, that Darville was reminded of the impact Army engineers had on the outside world as a result of the Kosovo deployment.
There, at the school, he recalled a chance encounter with an international student who he noticed was wearing the Kosovo flag on his uniform sleeve.
It had been 15 years since that deployment, yet undoubtedly proud of his work, the colonel asked the student whether he was familiar with Camp Bondsteel.
Afterall, Soldiers were putting their lives in danger to end the war, to end ethnic cleansing, he said. Surely, this student was aware of our mission there.
Initially, however, the student drew a blank until Darville described its location on top of a hill in a wheat field not far from the town of Urosevac.
“Oh,” the student exclaimed, “we don’t call it Bondsteel. We call it the city of hope!”
“You see,” he said, “that’s what makes the work that all of us do worthwhile. Taking care of Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Guardians who are willing to risk their lives for others, and sometimes it’s about giving hope to others when they need it most. Many times, it’s about both.
“Knowing that I played some small role in both is what I’m most proud of in my military career. It’s what has made it an honor to serve our nation as a member of the Army engineer regiment and as a member of the Corps of Engineers,” he said. “And over the past four years, it has been my great pleasure to get to know many of the highly qualified professional members of the Huntsville Center.
“In parting, I am confident that you will continue to take care of Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Guardians in ways only you are capable of doing and I am confident your projects will provide hope to many even though you will never have the pleasure of knowing their appreciation,” Darville said.