Johnstown, Pa. (May 7, 2001) -- Colonel (Retired) John A. Hugya, District Administrative Assistant to Congressman John P. Murtha (PA-12), has been awarded the Pennsylvania Meritorious Service Medal for his longstanding support of the Pennsylvania National Guard's legislative initiatives. Major General William B. Lynch, Adjutant General of Pennsylvania, presented the award during the recent Annual State Conference of the Pennsylvania National Guard Associations in Johnstown.

In conferring the award, Lynch cited Hugya's "rare and successful blend of leadership" between the Congressman's office and the Pennsylvania National Guard, to ensure that the Guard's requirements for modern facilities and equipment are addressed at the federal level. "Col. Hugya is a friend to all in the military," said Lynch, "but we in the Pennsylvania National Guard are especially grateful for his assistance. The real beneficiaries, of course, are the citizens of the Commonwealth, who can rely on a trained and ready Guard whenever the need arises."

Lynch also presented Congressman Murtha with the prestigious Eagle Award from the National Guard Bureau, Washington, D.C., for his leadership in securing vital funding in support of the entire National Guard. Murtha serves as the influential Ranking Member of the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.

Serving as second in command to Congressman Murtha, Hugya has directed all of his district activities since 1988. Hugya retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1992, with 40 years of active and reserve service. His military decorations include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with gold star, Navy Achievement Medal, and Pennsylvania Commendation Medal with silver star.

A resident of Jenner Township, Somerset County, Hugya is married to the former Karen Hennessy. He has two daughters, Brianna, at home, and Kristin Joltes, a physician's assistant with the rank of captain in the Connecticut Air National Guard.

With more than 20,000 members, the Pennsylvania National Guard is recognized as one of the largest and most combat-ready Guards of any state in the nation. In the last 10 years, numerous Pennsylvania units have deployed to Europe, Central America and the Persian Gulf region. In 2002 elements of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard's 28th Infantry Division will mobilize for a six-month peacekeeping assignment in Bosnia.

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