came home on leave July 23 after fighting all the way from Kuwait to Baghdad.Hudson, a 21-year-old graduate of Ross S. Sterling High School, is a member of the 1st Marine Division, First Battalion, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif.His
command shipped out from San Diego aboard the USS Dubuque, an amphibious transport ship, on Jan. 17, and arrived on station in Kuwait about a month later.His
company, Alpha 1, was the lead company as the battalion crossed into Iraq on March 21.
"We were the spearhead," Hudson
said Wednesday while relaxing at his
father's house on South Road.Hudson, a security force specialist, said he saw his first combat a day later, as several Marine squads attacked a farmhouse where Iraqi troops were holed up.His
squad was tasked with arresting Iraqi prisoners of war as they fled the house.
"It wasn't that bad," Hudson
described Baghdad as "a nasty town."
"There were cesspools in the streets.The smell is what gets you," he
described the desperate condition of the Iraqi people, who begged for food or money or tried to sell things.Still, he
said, the Americans were warmly greeted by most Iraqis.
"They were very glad to see us.You feel like you're the main attraction in a parade.They were waving, saying thank you," he
"There were men who remembered the days before Saddam who came up to you with tears in their eyes, shaking your hand," he
Children were especially friendly, he
said, often chasing U.S. troops for miles.
After taking over Baghdad, Hudson's
company was sent to the town of Hilla to train the new Iraqi police force.The Marines acted as a show of force in order to help the police gain credibility among the populace.He
made many friends among the new police officers.In fact, he
provided them with sleeve patches from the Baytown Police Department
, where his
father, John, is a sergeant.He
described coming across one of Saddam's opulent palaces.
"The stuff he
had was insane, compared to what he
also heard accounts of Iraqi citizens telling U.S. troops where to find mass graves and torture chambers.Hudson
described many humanitarian efforts performed by U.S. troops, including cleaning and re-supplying schools and treating injured civilians.He
said that schools were the favorite hiding places of the Hussein regime for hiding munitions, which U.S. troops confiscated and destroyed in bunkers.Hudson
command is still in Iraq and at present isn't slated to return until September.He
was only able to take leave because as a "chaser," he
was tasked with transporting a Marine prisoner to Camp Pendleton.The prisoner was fooling around and shot a fellow Marine, killing him, Hudson
is charged with manslaughter, negligent discharge of a weapon, and failure to obey a direct order.
The assignment allowed Hudson
to be able to see his newborn son, Rhett Christopher, who was born May 8, for the first time.
, and child are spending the leave time visiting family in Baytown before Hudson reports back to duty in California Aug. 26.Hudson, who joined the Marines five days after his high school graduation, has 10 months left in his four-year enlistment.He
hopes to finish his
tour at the division's headquarters.He
wants to become a police officer, but probably not in Baytown.
"My dad won't retire," he
said, so he'll probably try to join the police force in La Porte.Hudson
said the scariest moment he
felt was while he
was on patrol with Iraqi police and saw one of the policeman get shot through the head and killed.But the memory that sticks out in his
mind the most was when an Iraqi boy came up to him and begged for food.
"Saddam killed my father," the child said.
"The thing they need over there is stability," Hudson