• County undersheriff wins praise

  • Hugh Mills Jr. is having an eventful week.

    It started Monday, when state and county proclamations in his honor were read.

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  • Hugh Mills Jr. is having an eventful week.
    It started Monday, when state and county proclamations in his honor were read.
    “You are a true patriot, a public servant and a leader,” state Rep. John Mayfield, D-Independence, said when he got up at Monday’s Jackson County Legislature meeting to read a Missouri House of Representatives proclamation.
    County legislators also passed a resolution. Both lauded Mills’ accomplishments, chiefly his service in Vietnam, in which he was one of the most highly decorated pilots of the war.
    Mills, the undersheriff in the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, is originally from Hot Springs, Ark., and graduated as valedictorian from Hot Springs High School in 1966 (two years after Bill Clinton).
    He served two tours of duty in Vietnam, one as a Cobra pilot and one commanding an aero scout platoon. In all, he served 26 years in the Army, logging 3,300 combat hours. He was shot down 16 times and wounded three times.
    The awards are numerous: three Purple Hearts, three Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit, six Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Bronze Stars – one for valor in ground combat – and, from the government of Vietnam, the Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star and Palm, the Vietnamese Honor Medal First Class and the Civic Action Honor Medal First Class.
    He led air cavalry raids into Laos, Cambodia and North Vietnam and commanded the Army’s first night-attack helicopter unit with crude night vision systems. He devised a pilot technique to avoid tailspins in the Hughes OH-6 Cayuse, which had taken the lives of many pilots. He wrote a book, “Low Level Hell: A Scout Pilot in the Big Red One.” Two years ago, he was inducted into the Army Aviation Hall of Fame.
    He became a helicopter pilot for the Kansas City Police Department and kept flying in the Reserves. Sheriff Mike Sharp brought him on board in the Sheriff’s Department a few years ago.
    “This man goes out of his way to assist others, without asking,” said County Legislator Dan Tarwater, D-Kansas City.
    The immediate reason for the proclamations is that this coming Sunday Mills will be inducted into the Arkansas Walk of Fame in his hometown of Hot Springs. The other inductee is Mike Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate.
    “This is a big week for me,” Mills allowed, but he added that there are bigger things. The biggest, he said, is that this week he and his wife celebrate their 39th anniversary.
    Also, Monday was his birthday, and he took a playful jab at one of the older members of the Legislature.
    He’s now 65 “and I worry about that, but then I look at Bob Spence,” he said, drawing laughs, “and if he can make it, so can I.”

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