By C. Jayden Smith
A San Clemente woman who has spent nearly three decades volunteering and supporting her fellow members of the military community was honored with the Irene Ferguson Marine Wife Recognition Award in San Diego on Saturday, Aug. 20.
Kyp Hughes, whose husband, Shawn, is a Master Gunnery Sergeant assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) based at Camp Pendleton, received the award from the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation (FLHF).
The foundation annually recognizes the wife of an active-duty Marine for outstanding service to the U.S. Marine Corps, the community and families.
“Her passion for the welfare of Marines and Sailors attached to the MEUs provides needed support for active-duty personnel and their families during deployments, various family challenges, holidays, community events and much more,” FLHF said of Hughes in a media release.
Since June 2010, she has served as a Deployment Readiness Coordinator (DRS) for both the 11th and 13th MEUs at Camp Pendleton, with a goal of educating and preparing families of Marines and Sailors for the inevitable mission and other unexpected life events.
DRCs, which operate within the Marines’ Unit, Personal, and Family Readiness Program, serve as the hub of communication for the UPFRP and provide training and support to families.
“It varies every day,” Hughes said of her job in an interview with the San Clemente Times. “Every day is a new, exciting day with this position, because you just don’t know what’s to come.”
The DRCs for each MEU support people across the country, and Hughes noted that their program has expanded significantly to not only support spouses, but parents, grandparents, cousins, and all kinds of relatives.
Some of her daily activities include training families of individuals getting ready to deploy, providing pre-deployment briefs, organizing daycare for children ages 4 and under, and organizing family days to help people network and have a good time.
Additionally, coordinators must be ready to be there for families impacted by births, deaths of relatives, or COVID-19, which Hughes said especially stressed military families that were already facing separation from their loved ones.
She added that the program is only recently getting back to holding in-person events for families to meet others in the same situation.
There are multiple aspects to supporting families, according to Hughes, in that meeting with relatives and answering questions face-to-face is easier than reassuring a mother concerned about the world her young son will soon join.
Some only need a resource, and others need the comfort of knowing their loved ones are safe even when they don’t hear from them.
Hughes said she is the person a family can call to hear her say, “Hey, your loved one is doing just fine; they’re just out of communication right now. Everything is going smooth.”
Her history of volunteer work, along with her instrumental involvement in Yorba Linda adopting the 11th MEU and its Adoption Committee, led to the committee nominating Hughes for the award.
She said she was honored to be recognized, appreciated the work of Major Glenn Ferguson, USMC, who created the award in memory of his wife, Irene, and that she was humbled that the adoption committee recommended her name to be awarded.
“That means the world to me, to be nominated by people that know me, know my family, know our lifestyle, and appreciate and respect it,” said Hughes.
Through 26 years of her husband’s active service, the Hughes family has experienced 10 deployments and seen two children graduate from San Clemente High School and become adults. The years have gone by fast, Hughes said, and have been intensely busy.
She added that time especially flies during the combat deployment days, when families are waiting to hear bad news, and she resorted to mitigating her fears by becoming others’ support system in a group where she and her husband were often the oldest couple.
“Just putting my best foot forward supporting others, it just really makes the time fly for myself,” Hughes said. “I don’t have a lot of time to worry and stress about what could be, because I’m supporting everyone else, (so) they can get through it.”
With so many experiences of death and tragedy as a Marine spouse, she’s learned to not to take life for granted.
“Do what you can to support others,” she said. “Be kind and be prepared; you never know when something can happen directly to you or impact you directly.”
C. Jayden Smith
C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothering his black lab named Shadow.