Lee Hudon served in many branches of the military

Erin Mullins

It is important to honor veterans, said Lee Hudon, a local veteran who served in many branches of the military.
“This country is free because of the veterans. There’s a lot of guys (at the senior center) that are more heroes than I am,” Hudon said. “In Vietnam 58,000 people died. Some women, mostly men. Over 150,000 were wounded and still carry those wounds today.”
Hudon will be the guest speaker at the Veterans Day program at the North Big Horn Senior Citizens Center on Friday at noon.
Hudon has a family history in the military. His father, Louis Hudon, served in World War II in North Africa, Sicily, England, Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. He received a bronze star for taking down a German machine gunner to save his fellow soldiers.
Hudon’s siblings, nieces, nephews, grandfather and descendants have served in the military. His family roots in the military trace back to World War I, the Civil War, the War of 1812 and the American Revolution.
Hudon got into the military to escape a troubled home and due to the fact his mom thought it would be the best way to remedy his poor grades. He left high school at 17 to enlist in the Army. In addition to serving in the Army, he worked for the Army Reserve, Coast Guard, Navy, Air National Guard and Army National Guard.
Hudon said he was in a combat situation in South Korea once and almost died. He was walking beside a hillside that dropped down to an open space that others could see. Then a physical force pulled him back. A bullet hit right where he had been. The experience scared him to death.
Hudon’s near death experience is part of the reason for the faith he has. He said that the hardest part of military life is adjusting to living under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
“When you raise your hand and say ‘I do,’ you’re basically writing the check in hand and signing the check and handing it to the military,” he said. “They can cash that for anything they want, including your own life.”
In Lovell, the public has been respectful of veterans and those serving in the military, he said.  However, after he served in the DMZ in Korea starting in 1967 he returned to a public that was very hostile to the military.
“People called the military baby killers. They would spit on you and that kind of thing. Which was not the truth. We didn’t kill any babies,” Hudon said. “We were just doing the job that the government said we needed to do. Do I want to kill people? No. Matter of fact, in the 27 years of my military career I never killed anybody. I’m really happy about that.”
Hudon said throughout his service he would be promoted quickly. In the Coast Guard, he was promoted from E2 to E6 in three years, something that is normally completed in around seven years. He was also promoted to Senior Chief Petty Officer in the Navy. Due to how well he was doing, he served as a recruiter twice, both for the Coast Guard and the Navy.
In addition to serving in the military, Hudon worked as a logger in between his military stints afterward and as a diesel mechanic while in the National Guard. After his military service, he worked as a real estate agent for a few years. Then he worked as a hazardous materials inspector for the Federal Railroad Administration for 15 years until retirement.
Hudon moved to Wyoming in part because his wife is from Billings. His grandmother was born in the area, and his great-grandparents, the Cunninghams, were some of the original settlers here. In his free time, Hudon loves to fly planes, fish and woodwork. He builds things like tables, chairs and benches.
Hudon has fallen in love with the area.
“I love it here because it’s the freest state, I think, in the country, with the lowest taxes. It’s just a great place to live. Yeah, people here are super friendly. Great church here. Great people,” he said.