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Honor and dedication

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Bypass extension named for fallen soldier

By Stephen Lega

Five years ago, Johnathan Adam Hughes was killed by a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq. Last week, a new road was dedicated in Marion County to preserve his memory.

Family and friends, state and local officials, veterans and dozens of others were on hand for the dedication of the Adam Hughes Memorial Highway June 15.

Hughes was serving with the Kentucky Army National Guard's Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery, which is based in Campbellsville, at the time of his death. He was 21 years old.

The highway named in his honor is an extension of the Lebanon bypass, which is officially the Marion County Veterans Memorial Highway.

Marion County Judge/Executive John G. Mattingly taught Hughes when he was a student at Marion County High School. Mattingly said he remembered Hughes as a quiet, conscientious young man.

State Rep. Terry Mills said he hopes that the extension will lead to greater economic progress in the community, but also that the road will remind others why that progress is possible.

"I hope that everybody who uses this road will take a moment to be grateful for Adam and soldiers like him who gave their lives," he said.

State Sen. Jimmy Higdon noted many of the people who made the extension possible, including former Congressman Ron Lewis and former State Sen. Dan Kelly (who is now a circuit court judge). Higdon also said that this was the first project in Kentucky funded with federal stimulus money.

Higdon added that it was an honor to dedicate the road "to a special young man who gave his life in service to his country."

Lebanon City Administrator John O. Thomas offered condolences to the Hughes family on behalf of the city.

"It's always a nice thing when people remember those who served," he said.

The final speaker, Patty Dunaway, said the state has no higher honor than recognizing those who have served. Dunaway is the chief engineer for District Four of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

The Marion County Veterans Honor Guard fired a three-round volley and played "Taps" to honor Hughes before his parents and sisters unveiled the sign.

"It's incredible," said Karen Hill, Hughes' mother.

While it can't replace their loss, Hill said the memorial highway named in his honor helps with their pain.

"It's amazing," his sister Nikki Hill said.

Sgt. Robert Gibson recruited Hughes to join the Army National Guard. He remembered Hughes as someone who always pushed himself to excel at whatever he was asked to do. He added that the highway dedication means a lot to soldiers who served with Hughes.

"He made the ultimate sacrifice," Gibson said. "The community remembering him for that, it says a lot for the community as a whole."