Flour Bluff NJROTC Says Goodbye to Instructor and Mentor

Flour Bluff NJROTC Says Goodbye to Instructor and Mentor

Isabella Skinner, Editor-in-Chief

On Wednesday, November 16, Flour Bluff NJROTC instructor CMDR William “Commander” Hughen announced his resignation from the program and FBHS as a whole, effective December 16. Despite the sadness that hung like a cloud over the cadets in the unit, Hughen will be moving onto bigger and better things: becoming the next NJROTC Area 10 Manager.

“I think the biggest impact the (Commander) Hughen has to me would be that during his time here as the SNSI he has always made it about all the cadets and not just about the competitive team cadets. He is all about the entire unit. He has been a great mentor and will be missed,” said SH1 Steven Robey, who worked with Hughen during his time spent at Flour Bluff.

During his time here at Flour Bluff, Hughen had an effect on the students he instructed, as well as the ones he coached. After starting at the Bluff, he began the StellarXplorers program, in which students perform actual rocket science.

“We both wanted to go to A&M so he told me stories about that and we bonded over that. ROTC will not be the same without him and it is definitely something we will have to get used to as a unit. When he laughs it really brightens up the mood of everyone else and I wish him the best at his new job,” said senior Loreto Tobias, who commands the male varsity color guard and is spending his second year on varsity on the StellarXplorers team, the SeaStars.

When Hughen first arrived at Flour Bluff, it was directly after the departure of CMDR Armando Solis, who was very involved in the drill teams. To the members of the 2017-2018 drill teams, going from Solis to Hughen, a believer in the academic side of NJROTC, was largely a shock.

“At the start, he made me feel upset and angry at times, but as time went on, I became used to him, he made me feel important and encouraged me with my personal life and within the teams. I would say that he taught me to be patient and be open to experiencing change, because it isn’t always bad,” said Deanna De Leon, who graduated in 2021 after being the commander of the unarmed drill team and the Battalion Commanding Officer 2020-2021.

Hughen coached the SeaMonkey Academics team, and during his five-year span, the team has won first place at State every single year.

“Commander was always a reliable source of encouragement, always pushing the cadets in the unit to look and act their best. His guidance was always present and appreciated. He instilled in me a great sense of responsibility and leadership. Even in college, this has allowed me to take charge of any curve balls thrown my way and establish myself in classes and clubs alike. Go Aggies!” said Hannah Leclear, who graduated in 2022 and was the commander of the academics team and the Battalion Executive Officer 2021-2022.

It wasn’t only former graduates that Hughen had an impact on. Current students expressed their sadness at Hughen’s announcement, many (specifically seniors) shedding tears during his announcement.

Commander was a great example and a better leader. He helped to lead us to victory at State and for that, I’m thankful for having the opportunity to work with him,” said senior and academics team commander David Berry.

Hughen also coached the JV marksmanship team and made an impact on all of the students as they made their way up to varsity.

“He definitely has played a huge part in my experience in ROTC. He’s extremely helpful for everything you need and has good advice. Hearing the stories about his time in the Navy is a great experience,” said junior Leland Guy, who has been on the marksmanship team for two years now.

“I didn’t have any intention of leaving here, ever. I absolutely love Flour Bluff. I want to thank everybody. Cadets, I can’t thank you guys enough. Flour Bluff is all the other stuff, but it’s you guys. You guys make this place special. Just do your best forever. Stay loyal and committed to what we do here in Flour Bluff,” said Hughen in his address to the cadets and parents.

Hughen will be deeply missed as he departs from Flour Bluff, and his display of class, pride and heart will be remembered fondly.