I'm sure that Dave Hughes has no recall of this former plebe.  However, I
remember him vividly.  For me he was a walking symbol of what a West Point
Army officer should be: He dressed the part, he looked the part, and his
every action bespoke his living the part.  He was (I'm sure he still is) a
down to earth human being who cared for people (he always found time to
discuss a problem and assist you in finding solutions), while at the same
time he was an intellectual whose command of the English language was
obvious (he was, after all, an English P), and he was a real honest to God
hero who had proven himself in combat.  

Little known facts about myself (In the past 40 years, I haven't found any
particularly good reasons to enlighten anyone.) must be revealed in order
to relate my "fond memories" of Dave Hughes.   If you will recall, Black
Stars were the symbols of successfully surviving turnout exams; the stars
were worn on the B-robe as symbol of surviving the impossible.  When I wore
my B-robe, I could have been a General of the Armies--however, all five
black stars don't fit on one shoulder.  Two of those stars are from Plebe

My first real remembrance of Dave Hughes comes from the sitting across the
desk from him and watching him review my academic file-I had been turned
out in Plebe English.  He looked up after a couple of minutes and asked,
"Do you want to pass?"  I'm not sure how my affirmative response was
phrased, however, I remember him saying, "Okay, soldier this is what we are
going to do." (There was an emphasis on the "we"). That comment was the
start of the most intensive English language program you can imagine.  Five
writing assignments every day for seven days were his requirements.  I have
no idea to this day how I did them.  I would write them and then he and I
would sit down in his office and grade them.  The first ones had red marks
on every line.  

By the end of the third day, I was ready to throw in the towel.  You must
remember as a plebe that there seemed to be zero free time, and by the end
of the third day's tutoring session I was frustrated with pages of my
"best" being torn apart and covered with red ink.  My mood must have shown
clearly to Hughes, or perhaps he knew or anticipated my feelings of
inadequacy, for he sat back and told me that at first he didn't think I had
a chance, but now, if I kept up the effort, he thought my chances were
good.  The only exact memory of that evening came in connection with some
comment of mine concerning how hopeless it seemed.  His comment was to the
effect: "Most battles have moments where it seems hopeless; the winner is
the one who gives his best no matter how hopeless it seems."  (I wrote that
down and carried it with me for many years.)

By the end of the fifth day of this accelerated English course, there were
only a dozen red marks, and for some reason sentences, paragraphs, and
ideas had become easier to write.  It was taking me less time, and the
results were significantly better.  The night before the turnout exam,
after Hughes had reviewed the longest assignment, his comments were, "You
are ready soldier; tomorrow, take your time, check your spelling, and use
small concise words.  Good luck."

I am writing this as a fond memory so it is obvious to all that I passed
the exam.  The results of the exam were not immediately available and it
wasn't until I found my name on the math class formation list that I knew
for a fact that I would be around for the next semester.  A Sunday, prior
to the start of the next semester, we were sitting in the room eating ice
cream when someone yelled attention in the barracks.  Standing like plebes
(dumbbells seems appropriate) Dave Hughes walked into the room.  He sat us
at ease and sat behind one of the desks and asked if he could join us.  I
have two lasting impressions of that visit: The first impression is of him
scooping out ice cream from one of all of our containers into a glass and
eating it with a pencil.  The second impression was that he cared.  The
purpose of his visit was to congratulate me on passing.  In doing so, he
commented that I must have done extremely well since by his calculations on
the first day, I needed to almost max the exam to avoid turnout.

Years later, during a harried day with competing demands of my department,
class schedule, and family activities for which I needed time to prepare, I
was writing a concise review of a General's draft to the Chief of Staff's
GO's weekly or monthly review.  I stopped in the middle of that draft to
reread the General's note.  The uncanny and unique ability to express
complex ideas in writing that I was being asked to use were actually the
result of Dave Hughes, with competing demands and real priorities, spending
more than twenty hours of his harried days during one week to focused on
helping one plebe; one plebe out of 600-a plebe who even with his help
would have to accomplish the near impossible by maxing an English turnout

The lasting impact of Dave Hughes on my life and me as a person would be
difficult to measure.  Perhaps the best way to indicate the continuing
effect would be to say this: After writing four published books, several
published articles, and after having my ability to present complex ideas in
writing noted as one of my unique skills on twenty-five years of officer
efficiency reports, I am concerned that if Dave Hughes were to read this,
he would take out his red pen.  

Court Prisk
USMA 1959