Embrace A Veteran: Former Army pilot continues to give back

Embrace A Veteran: Former Army pilot continues to give back
Dennis Hubbell, right, poses with a high ranking official during his time in the Army. (Source: Dennis Hubbell)
Dennis Hubbell, right, poses with a high ranking official during his time in the Army. (Source: Dennis Hubbell)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A former Army helicopter pilot who displayed courage and heart while serving is still giving back, in any way he can.

"He is the type of person who is a real giver - ethical, smart, funny and extremely tech savvy," said Fred Kane, talking about his friend Dennis Hubbell, a former Army lieutenant.

Kane, whose two sons served in Iraq and Afghanistan, met Hubbell when the former Army pilot donated his DJ services to help raise money for Wounded Warrior events.

For Hubbell, giving back to those who served is as important as any combat mission he flew over the course of his seven years.

His Chinook flying missions were domestic, but not without danger. Here is one account of his time as a pilot:

"Actually once during flight school, we flew over the wrong farmer's field, and apparently he had some marijuana plants, and he opened fire on us during flight school. And I understand he's in federal prison now. Then another time, we were doing drug intervention out in California with the DEA in the back, and flew over the wrong field, and some guys opened up on us. It's not just me; I'm protecting whoever's in the back.

Hubbell says he'll never forget his days in the service. He started out as an enlisted soldier and went to basic training at Fort Jackson.

"We had our original drill sergeants for two weeks, and then welcome to hell all over again," he said. "Every week is ... we had a brand new set of very motivated drill sergeants."

Hubbell called it a "unique experience from the get go." He eventually had the opportunity to go back to college, and was in the simultaneous membership program, serving in both the ROTC and the reserves at the same time.

"(I) jumped out of perfectly good airplanes, repelled out of helicopters," Hubbell said. "It was a lot of fun. You get out of it, what you put into it."

He added the stress of flying the 30,000-pound helicopter 15 feet off the ground at almost 200 miles an hour with 30 people onboard has prepared him for much in life.

Meanwhile, Kane's sons also shared with him the stories of survival and the reality of loss.

"It was tough for my wife and I because both our sons were infantry and both deployed during the same time, during the surge, so we knew that every day they were getting shot at," Kane said.

His recalls the conversation his wife had with one of their son's drivers.

"She said, 'When did you get your driver's license?'  He said about six months ago. He said, 'But don't worry about Lt. Kane; I'll take care of him,' and three months later he was killed. That stuff goes though you, so that's why I got involved. It let me occupy my mind and do something. I wear this bracelet to remember 19-year-old Jack Sweet, killed by an IED."

Today, Hubbell is known as Big D on his contemporary Christian online radio station, JIOS Radio. He mission here is to offer more than just music.

"We are love, faith, hope and relationship, and our team also offers counseling 24 hours a day," Hubbell said.

He has also worked alongside Embrace Hospice and credits this "amazing group of people" for their dedication to the area's veteran community.

"It really is a true calling, doing hospice work," Kane said.

Hubbell said he feels grateful for his service and those who serve. He just hopes that the support continues to run deep.

"Thank a veteran, but to take it a step further, it's not just the veteran that serves, it's they're family," he said. "And those people at home need support."

Hubbell also has a business called Hubble Entertainment, so residents may see him playing music at weddings when he's not volunteering his time. Kane continues to work on fundraising efforts for veterans via the Fisher House, including an upcoming tournament here.

Anyone who know of a veteran who deserves to be recognized can submit their name here.

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