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Heroes of War
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NAME: Sgt. Gary Hughes
AGE: 27
UNIT: Army Physical Training Corps, 2nd Royal Tank Regiment
HOMETOWN: Birmingham, England
FAMILY: Mother, Kate Boland; father, Michael John; son, Cavan
DETAILS: Sgt. Hughes took a break from war to carry a pregnant Iraqi woman to the hospital so she could give birth.
British soldier makes special delivery during war

'I did what any guy would do'

By Jeordan Legon
CNN

(CNN) -- Sgt. Gary Hughes remembers it was a scorching day in southern Iraq when he noticed a woman cloaked in a black chador slumping to the floor, holding her stomach.

Taking a break from handing out water bottles, Hughes, 27, soon realized the young Muslim woman was pregnant. Worried she was losing the baby, he said he slung his rifle on his back and swooped her into his arms.

"It all happened so fast," said Hughes, the physical training instructor for Britain's 2nd Royal Tank Regiment. "I ran to the hospital as fast as I could -- about 200 meters." That's roughly the size of two football fields.

Hospital staff nicknamed the 6-pound boy "Yussuf Gary." Coincidentally, the baby was born April 4, the same day Hughes' son, Cavan, celebrated his first birthday back home in Birmingham, England.

"Whether it was my fatherly instinct or what, I don't know," Hughes said. "I did what any guy would do."

Dr. Abdul Hussain, from Az-Zubayr General Hospital, told a pool reporter embedded with Hughes' unit that the soldier "will be remembered here for a long time."

"He showed the true meaning of human kindness in the face of adversity," Hussain told the News of the World of England. "He is a hero in all our eyes."

Following the example of his grandfather, a Royal Marine, and his father, also a soldier, Hughes joined the army straight out of high school. Stationed in Fallingbostel, Germany, he went on peacekeeping missions to Bosnia and spent two years in Northern Ireland.

A difficult part of his mission in Iraq, he said, was enduring the heat, "and seeing the children begging for water and food," he added. "You know, such basic things."

He said he's happy the baby whose mother he helped in Az-Zubayr, near Basra, will be living in an Iraq free of Saddam Hussein's regime.

"In that town there, for us, that was our high point," he said. "These people were being ruled by an iron fist. Now they're free. ... You'd like to think that in 10 years' time this child will have some of the same opportunities we had as children."

Hughes is back in Germany, and May 23, he heads home for a few weeks off.

What's the main thing he wants to do?

"To see my boy. Taking him swimming. Feeding the ducks," he said. "And seeing him walking and talking. He's started to do that since the last time I saw him."


Note: In every war there are acts of extraordinary courage where an individual, military or civilian, goes beyond what is expected to avert conflict, save lives or otherwise achieve an extraordinary mission. This special section highlights the acts of a few individuals who -- through feats of courage, nobility of purpose or life-risking situations -- have become "Heroes of War."

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