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Mildenhall mourns loss of master sergeant

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Cindy Dorfner
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Master Sgt. Bernard Huggins was what people in the Air Force call a “fast burner.” In the military for 14 years, Sergeant Huggins, a flightline expeditor with the 100th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, was promoted this past July -- fairly early at age 33.

A native of Manning, S.C., Sergeant Huggins was found dead Nov. 18 in a field near Freckenham, just a few miles from the base. The circumstances surrounding his death aren’t yet clear, though the Suffolk Constabulary is certain nothing suspicious took place. Even with all his success in uniform, it’s the things off duty which will highlight the memories of those who knew him. His heart, his cooking and his undying love for his children are what those closest to him will remember for years to come.

For Staff Sgt. Akilah Huggins, living without her best friend and the father of her children, Kendrick, 7, and Savannah, 5, is going to be difficult. Though the two had recently gotten divorced, they remained very close and hoped to get back together someday soon.

“He was the best friend I could ever have. We talked about everything,” said Sergeant Huggins, who is from the 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron. “He was the best father I’ve ever known. He loved his kids so much.”

Staff Sgt. Deametreyess Simmons, 100th Air Refueling Wing, had known Sergeant Huggins since they were stationed in Korea. Though she didn’t know him well there, that changed when she arrived at RAF Mildenhall. Sergeant Simmons was here about 60 days when she found out she was deploying. She was single and didn’t know many people, so Sergeant Huggins stepped in and volunteered to take care of her car, her bills ... everything.

“I considered him my best friend, even if he didn’t consider me the same,” said Sergeant Simmons. “He was always there. I could always count on him.”

Sergeant Simmons knew she could count on her friend for just about anything.

“He was somebody to look up to,” Sergeant Simmons said. “He was really serious about studying for that next stripe. He knew I was a morning person, so he would call me in the mornings to ask if I was studying. Sometimes, he would see me online and tell me to get off the computer and get studying. He knew I was just chatting with friends.”

Hearing about his friend’s death took a toll on Staff Sgt. Chris Hough, who is no longer stationed at RAF Mildenhall and is deployed to Iraq.

“Bernard was the type of man, friend and sergeant that will look out for us even now that he is gone,” Sergeant Hough said in an e-mail.

“I made the kids promise me they’ll never forget him, never stop loving him,” Sergeant Huggins said. “I let them know he loved them more than life itself.”

Sergeant Huggins said she’ll do everything to make sure her kids don’t forget their father.

“I’m going to ask them every day to tell me something different they remember about their daddy,” she said. “Today, Savannah remembered when they played checkers she never got to win. I told her I would teach her how to play so she can win every time. Kendrick remembered the fireworks they just went to see in Lakenheath.”

She made a promise to their father, as well.

“When I was alone with him after he died, I made a promise to him,” she said. “On their graduation days, on their wedding days, even though he won’t be there physically, he’ll be there with them. I’ll make sure they know he’s there.”