Friday night was a big one for an injured Green Country Marine. We've been following the progress of Lance Corporal Jeff Hudgens for two years. From the President personally awarding him a Purple Heart, to his fight to recover from life threatening injuries, to his joyous homecoming. News on 6 Anchor Craig Day reports on Friday night Jeff retired from the military during a special ceremony in Broken Arrow.
Surrounded by family, friends and fellow Marines, Lance Corporal Jeff Hudgens is formally retired from the Marine Corps.
Hudgens means a lot to everyone there on Friday.
"So much has gone on in his life and he's gotten so much better than we thought he would,â€ said Jeffâ€™s father Russell Hudgens. â€œI'm just thrilled that so many people turned out to wish him well in the future. And he's got quite a bit of life laying ahead of him."
"It's sad that I'm going, but happy to see everybody,â€ said now retired Marine Jeff Hudgens.
â€œHappy about your future?â€ asked News on 6 anchor Craig Day.
â€œYes. I'm looking forward to it," Jeff said.
Not long ago, the future was uncertain. In Iraq for only a couple months, Hudgens was severely injured by a roadside bomb in 2004. The bomb blast injured his arm and leg and blew off part of Hudgen's skull.
"He's touched more lives than I can possibly imagine," said Russell.
People who admired his positive outlook, and were inspired by the hard work that gave him some mobility back.
"I'm still going to therapy twice a week, we're making progress there," Jeff said.
Hudgens says he has no regrets.
Although he dreamed of making a career with the Marines, he now has new dreams. He's studying business management at NSU and hopes to one day open a restaurant
Some of the medical personnel that helped with Jeff Hudgen's recovery in Florida were at Fridayâ€™s retirement ceremony. Once he can drive again, Hudgen's says he plans to visit his fellow Marines in Broken Arrow. Jeff says through it all, he's thankful for the support of his parents, girlfriend and others, and the encouragement of so many people.