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Texas A&M Cadets join the Hufstedler Gold Star Family for dinner

FORT KNOX, KY. – Cadet Leaders Course (CLC) 1ST Regiment graduated in honor of 1st Lt Doyle M. Hufstedler, III, a graduate of Texas A&M University. Hufstedler was killed in action on March 31st, 2004, in Iraq.

Hufstedler’s late wife, Leslie Hufstedler-Alvarez and their daughter Gracie had dinner with Cadets who were student of Texas A&M University in the evening prior to graduation.

The 1st Regiment of Cadet Leaders Course (CLC) is named in honor of 1st Lt. Doyle Hufstedler who died in combat on March 31, 2004. Pictured above is his wife Leslie, who is talking with Cdt. Zachary Lanctot, Texas A&M University, while having dinner at Fort Knox, Ky, June 29. Photo by: Trent Taylor

The 1st Regiment of Cadet Leaders Course (CLC) is named in honor of 1st Lt. Doyle Hufstedler who died in combat on March 31, 2004. Pictured above is his wife Leslie, who is talking with Cdt. Zachary Lanctot, Texas A&M University, while having dinner at Fort Knox, Ky, June 29.
Photo by: Trent Taylor

“Doyle was a fighter, a warrior, in all aspects of life,” Hufstedler-Alvarez remarked, “He was diagnosed with dyslexia back in the days before learning disabilities were prominent. Doyle struggled through both primary and secondary school due to this disability.  He was told by teachers that he would never go to college, but he did.”

All of the Texas A&M Cadets present at the dinner hope to carry the legacy of Hufstedler with them as they carry out their careers.

Cdt. William Old, Texas A&M University, native of San Antonio Texas, was present at the dinner in honor of Hufstedler.

“Personally I am in the same company that he was in when he was at A&M, I’ve seen his face on the wall, so it’s really awesome to put a face and a family to it,” Old said, “Being able to actually sit down and meet with his family and take it back to the other Cadets at our school and tell them more about what we learned about him tonight, I think that’s pretty awesome.”

Old explained that Hufstedler holds a place in most of the hearts of Cadets at Texas A&M.

“Being an Aggie grad, most everyone wanted to be able to come back to this dinner. Most people know the story of 1st Lt. Hufstedler at A&M, because the unit that he was in has a huge mural on their wall. It has his whole story, so most people are familiar with it and know of him,” Old said.

Hufstedler-Alvarez remembers Hufstedler’s love for his soldiers and the importance of family for him, and urges Cadets to do the same.

The 1st Regiment of Cadet Leaders Course (CLC) is named in honor of 1st Lt. Doyle Hufstedler who died in combat on March 31, 2004. Pictured above are the Cadets from Texas A&M with Leslie Hufstedler-Alvarez, and her daughter Gracie, they share an awesome Aggies tradition of singing the fight song of Texas A&M. This was special because Doyle Hufstedler was a graduate of Texas A&M. This special moment came after they were able to eat dinner together at Fort Knox, Ky, June 29..Photo by Trent Taylor

The 1st Regiment of Cadet Leaders Course (CLC) is named in honor of 1st Lt. Doyle Hufstedler who died in combat on March 31, 2004. Pictured above are the Cadets from Texas A&M with Leslie Hufstedler-Alvarez, and her daughter Gracie, they share an awesome Aggies tradition of singing the fight song of Texas A&M. This was special because Doyle Hufstedler was a graduate of Texas A&M. This special moment came after they were able to eat dinner together at Fort Knox, Ky, June 29..Photo by Trent Taylor

As for my advice, above all else, take care of your Soldiers.  This isn’t always just making sure they have proper training, although that is an important aspect,” Hufstedler-Alvarez said, “Make sure your Soldiers are able to make the important events with their families.”

Hufstedler-Alvarez also reminded the Cadets to make sure they remember the little moments and to create an open dialog with their soldiers.

“If you set an open atmosphere, your Soldiers will come to you and trust you. Build trust with the small things and they will seek your help with the bigger issues,” Hufstedler-Alvarez said.

At the end of the dinner, Hufstedler-Alvarez reminded the Cadets to make sure that they were updating and understanding their legal papers in the event of tragedy, if nothing else but to better prepare their families in the wake of a loss.

All of the Texas A&M Cadets joined with Hufstedler-Alvarez and Gracie to sing the university’s fight song at the end of dinner.

Cdt. Kendra Murphy, attends Coppin State University, native of Baltimore Md., who is Gracie’s mentor through the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) organization, was also present at the Hufstedler dinner.

The 1st Regiment of Cadet Leaders Course (CLC) is named in honor of 1st Lt. Doyle Hufstedler who died in combat on March 31, 2004. Pictured above is Doyle Hufstedler’s wife, Leslie, and daughter, Gracie, along with Cdt. Kendra Murphy, Coppin State University Maryland, who became Gracie’s mentor after her father passed. Murphy was able to help Gracie because she also lost someone close to her as her brother was killed in action. They were able to reunite after having dinner at Fort Knox, Ky, June 29..Photo by: Trent Taylor

The 1st Regiment of Cadet Leaders Course (CLC) is named in honor of 1st Lt. Doyle Hufstedler who died in combat on March 31, 2004. Pictured above is Doyle Hufstedler’s wife, Leslie, and daughter, Gracie, along with Cdt. Kendra Murphy, Coppin State University Maryland, who became Gracie’s mentor after her father passed. Murphy was able to help Gracie because she also lost someone close to her as her brother was killed in action. They were able to reunite after having dinner at Fort Knox, Ky, June 29..Photo by: Trent Taylor

“I’ve known the Hufstedler family for two years now, I met them at a national seminar with TAPS. I was a mentee for my first two years, my brother was killed in Iraq in 2005, and that’s really how I got into the program,” Murphy said, “As a mentee I had a mentor myself, who really inspired me and helped me throughout my grieving process, and that motivated me to give back and be that person for someone else. In that sense, I hooked up with Gracie, and that was the beginning of a great bond and relationship that we’ve shared for the past two years.”

Murphy says that she and Gracie keep in contact throughout the year constantly.

“If she needs anything, wants to talk to me for any reason, holidays, birthdays, she’s always there and I’m always there,” Murphy said. “We talk all the time, we share a relation that is hard to come by, and that has been a really great thing for me. I make sure the decisions I make and the things that I do can be looked up to by her.”

Murphy urges anyone to connect with the TAPS organization because of it’s incredible impact. More information on TAPS can be found at http://www.taps.org.

Leslie Hufstedler-Alvarez, their daughter Grace, and his parents, Kathleen and Doyle Hufstedler Jr., were present at the CLC 1st Regiment graduation ceremony in 1st Lt. Hufstedler’s honor.

 

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Emily LaForme

A student at Michigan State University, Emily is a Public Affairs Intern for U.S. Army Cadet Command of Fort Knox, KY. Emily has a passion for all things military, journalism, and MSU football.

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