Few of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s residents are native to the area, which is true for almost any military town. MCB Camp Lejeune and Onslow County are currently home despite where you are from. There is a rich history at MCB Camp Lejeune and every road tells a story.
The traffic loop on Mainside is intersected by Holcomb Boulevard, named for Thomas Holcomb, 17th commandant of the Marine Corps, and McHugh Boulevard. This street, serving as an important access road through MCB Camp Lejeune’s Mainside, is named for another Thomas, Thomas McHugh, the third Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, who held that title from 1962 to 1965.
McHugh enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in 1938 prior to entering extended active duty service in 1940. In 1942, he was attached to the 1st Marine Division with his unit, taking part in the Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester and Peleliu campaigns. McHugh was full time active duty by 1943 and rose to platoon sergeant and gunnery sergeant prior to his return to the United States in November 1944. He was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds suffered in the Peleliu operation.
McHugh would go on to serve as Noncommissioned Officer-in-Charge of the Rifle Range, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. In July 1945, he was ordered back to Camp Lejeune where he served as Company First Sergeant and Company Gunnery Sergeant with the Infantry Training Regiment, with 1st Infantry Battalion of the 1st Special Marine Brigade, and with the 2d Battalion, 8th Marines. He served on both coasts with extended time at MCB Camp Lejeune. He was promoted to sergeant major in 1955.
Following his tour as Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, he was ordered to Okinawa, Japan, for duty as Sergeant Major of Camp Smedley D. Butler, serving in that capacity until September 1966.
Upon his return to the United States, Sergeant Major McHugh became Sergeant Major, Marine Corps Schools Quantico, Virginia. Upon redesignation of that command, he was Sergeant Major of Marine Corps Development and Education Command. Transferred to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, in May 1968, he served as Sergeant Major, Force Troops, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic until April 1969, when he was ordered to the Republic of Vietnam.
McHugh retired in December of 1970 after 32 years of service. McHugh passed away in 2000 in Jacksonville, North Carolina.