Retired Maj. Gen. Robert Hughes Jr. can remember a time he went running with the late Wallace Cole Hogan Jr.
The pair, who served together with the 48th Brigade, ran five miles on the beach at Amelia Island in Florida that day, and by the end of it, Hughes said he was pretty worn out. Hogan, who served as a Green Beret, however, still had energy to burn.
“He said to me, ‘You can walk back, but I’m going to swim along the beach,’” Hughes recalled with a chuckle. “He was just a heck of a guy.”
Hughes was one of several speakers Sunday at Riverside Cemetery, assembled to pay homage to Hogan and other victims of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States 10 years ago.
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Hogan, who grew up in Macon and graduated from First Presbyterian Day School in 1978, was an Army major, serving at the Pentagon, when one of the hijacked planes struck the building. Hogan, 40, was one of 125 people killed in the attack.
More than 200 people showed up Sunday at the cemetery, including many of Hogan’s family and friends.
Hughes wanted people to remember Hogan as someone who never hesitated to take on a challenge.
“He always looked like a soldier,” Hughes told those on hand. “He was lean and mean. He was full of life but ready for action. Cole was a committed and loyal Army officer. He loved a challenge, and his work ethic endeared him to everyone. He took pride in his work and physical fitness. Others would tap out, but Cole Hogan would never tap out.”
Organizers put together an ecumenical invocation, with Rabbi Larry Schlesinger of Temple Beth Israel, Imam Adam Fofana of the Islamic Center of Central Georgia, the Rev. Dawid Kwiatkowski of St. Joseph Catholic Church, and the Rev. Marcus Tripp of Vineville United Methodist Church speaking about remembrance, unity, compassion and healing.
After a 21-gun salute, Hughes and Brig. Gen. Larry Dudney -- himself a survivor of the Pentagon attack on Sept. 11 -- placed a wreath at the marker for Hogan and his father at the cemetery. Hogan is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Hogan’s widow, Pat Ewings, said she’s grateful that so many people turned out for the ceremony in her late husband’s honor. She said it was impossible for her to prepare herself fully for the 10th anniversary of his death.
“You can’t prepare yourself. You know it’s coming,” said Ewings, who said she still doesn’t want to talk about the day he died. “It’s very touching (to have the ceremony). I know they will always remember him here in Macon. I had no doubt they would ever forget him. It’s just hard to talk about, to go through this all the time.”
Baron Gibson, who was a classmate of Hogan’s at FPD, said he mostly remembers the happy memories associated with his late friend, such as playing football together and going on trips.
“Cole was full-speed with everything he did,” Gibson said. “The biggest surprise was that he was behind a desk (at the Pentagon) that day. But I’m sure he was serving where he wanted to be. He always wanted to be a part of the action.”
Gibson said Hogan was the one person among their group of friends who would always say what everyone else might be thinking.
“He had a key eye,” Gibson said. “He was an observer of things. He’d say the things that people always thought.”
Kevin Berkman, now a deputy G-3 with the Georgia National Guard, served with Hogan from 1992-94 with the Alabama National Guard.
He said Hughes’ speech really captured the man Hogan was, how he embodied the best values a person can have.
“He was a fierce competitor and had a moral fiber within him that was second to none,” Berkman said. “He was the most larger-than-life person I’ve ever met. When God made him, he really cracked the mold after that. He’s left a huge void in everyone’s life.”
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.