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May 4, 2014

Hugon recognized with Liberty Bell Award, Arooji expresses gratitude for United States

DUNCAN — Members of the Stephens County Bar Association heard from a national hero moments after recognizing a local hero.

The annual Law Day event took place Friday at the Duncan Golf and Tennis Club. About 200 people were in attendance for the local event when the Stephens County Bar Association recognized Marilyn Hugon as this year’s Liberty Bell Award winner.

The group also heard from Fred Arooji, who is noted as being a special ops member and helping pioneer the technology for night vision goggles.

District Judge Joe Enos presented the Liberty Bell Award.

“We present this award to a lay person, someone who has given selflessly to the community,” Enos said. “This year’s recipient is a life-long resident of Oklahoma and a true daughter of Duncan. She is a certified lay leader.”

Hugon has served on the board of directors for Duncan Regional Hospital since 2007. She just completed a two-year term as the chairwoman for that board. She has also been instrumental in the growth of the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center and has served more than 20 years as a trustee for the McCasland Foundation.

 Because of her dedication to the community, Hugon was unable to attend the Law Day event. Instead, her sister Barbara Braught accepted the award on Hugon’s behalf.

“I know she feels extremely honored,” Braught said.

Enos said Hugon’s father Jack A. Maurer was among the people who had the greatest impact on Hugon, pushing her toward more community involvement. Maurer was a 1984 Liberty Bell winner.  The Simmons Center’s Jack A. Maurer Convention Center is named for him.

“She got her devotion from her father,” Enos said.

But there’s more to Hugon than a legacy left by her father, Enos said. She was named the 2013 Woman of the Year by the Duncan Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Enos said she is a woman of strong faith and financial expertise.

Attorney Jim Kee presented introductions leading to Arooji’s talk.

Arooji, a 2013 recipient of the Bull Simons Award, was involved in a 1980 hostage rescue mission in Iran. The mission was aborted when a helicopter collided with a C-130, killing eight service people in the process. As a result, Arooji was stranded in Iran for two weeks before finding his way out of the country.

“I’m very humble standing here in front of you all,” Arooji said during the Law Day luncheon. “You make it sound like I’m some sort of hero. I’m not. I’m just thankful to God for this country.”

Arooji was born in Iran and considers himself fortunate to be a citizen of the United States. He said it was always his dream to be a military pilot, and he got his chance through the United States Air Force. He spent more than 30 years in the Special Operations, where he has flown hundreds of missions.

“Everything I’ve done in my life has been big,” Arooji said. “All these years, I’ve had nothing but the best people to work with.”

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