John Joseph McHugh

January 2, 1928July 23, 2018

John J McHugh, 90, retired Colonel, USAF, died 7/23/18. He is survived by his loving wife, Mary, of 68 years and family of two sons (John and Keith), three daughters (Dede Hanley, Peggy Kithcart, and Terrie Swopes), along with eight grandchildren (Diane Hanley, Ben Hanley, Kelsey McHugh Willacker, Marika McHugh, Kara Rountree, Rebecca McHugh Williams, Jensen and Remy Swopes) and great granddaughter Evelyn Williams. Also surviving includes three sisters, Sister Dolores Marie, BVM, Eileen Navins and Dolores Falconer. Surviving son-in-laws include Mike Hanley, Brian Kithcart and Eldon Swopes; daughter-in-law, Laura McHugh; grandson-in-law Daniel Williams and granddaughter-in-law Kristin Moore Hanley.

John was born on January 2, 1928 in Youngstown, Ohio and grew up in North Allegheny Acres (near Cheswick, PA) until graduating from high school and joining the Army Air Force in 1946. During his Air Force career of 31 years active duty he advanced through all the enlisted grades and was commissioned as Second Lieutenant after completing OCS in 1954. Early assignments during first two years of service included places like Guam, Saipan, Iwo Jima, Japan and deployment to England in 1948 with the 2d Bomb Group to provide a strategic deterrence during the Berlin Airlift. The excitement associated with his duties and firsthand view of the post war impact on Japan and Germany influenced John’s decision to make the Air Force his career. During his career he attended evening college classes and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha followed by selection to attend Syracuse University where he earned an MBA and was awarded membership in the honorary management fraternity, Sigma Iota Epsilon.

He met his wife Mary on a blind date in 1949 while stationed with the 2d Bomb Group (SAC) in Savannah, GA. After a brief romance, they married and spent the next 28 years as an Air Force family, living in 20 different homes as a result of changing assignments. The family met the challenges created by these moves involving changing schools, friends, etc. Since retiring from the Air Force in 1977 they have lived in the Altamonte Springs area.

John played a key role for 14 years in the Strategic Air Command during the rapid buildup of strategic forces to meet the challenges of the cold war. As an enlisted man, he performed a variety of duties at squadron, group, and wing levels including First Sergeant and Sergeant Major. As an officer, he performed planning, programming, personnel and administrative duties at numbered Air Force, Strategic Air Command headquarters and Headquarters USAF. These assignments were followed by duty with Pacific Air Command headquarters in Hawaii and 7th Air Force headquarters in South Vietnam as Director Personnel Plans where he was actively involved in the drawdown of Air Force personnel during 1970-71. Awards and decorations included the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Armed Forces Meritorious Medal, Air Force Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, among others.

After John retired from the Air Force in 1977, he was involved in a variety of jobs involving AARP, local and state political campaigns, tax preparation for low income filers and real estate. He began attending UCF in 1980 to earn an MS in Accounting which he completed in May 1982 and was awarded membership in the honorary management fraternity Beta Gama Sigma. He passed all parts of the CPA exam on his first attempt just prior to graduation. After graduating and for the next ten years he worked for the City of Orland Finance Department in several accounting positions including Assistant Comptroller. Since then he worked as a volunteer in a variety of duties until full retirement in 2004. Family reunions and travel since 1990 were many and varied including trips to Hawaii, Alaska, Ireland, Spain, Aruba, Canada, Mexico and many states of mainland USA.

His 90 years of life will be celebrated with family and friends from 7-8pm Friday evening, July 27, 2018, at Baldwin Fairchild Funeral Home, 90 Weathersfield Ave. Altamonte Springs, FL 32714. The funeral Mass will be at 11am Saturday morning, July 28, 2018 at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Parish, 861 Maitland Avenue, Altamonte Springs, FL 32701.

In lieu of flowers the family would prefer donations to the “Hospice of the Comforter,” 480 West Central Parkway. Altamonte Springs, 32714


  • Visitation Friday, July 27, 2018
  • Funeral Mass Service Saturday, July 28, 2018

John Joseph McHugh

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