Hugo appears to be a laid-back and somewhat cowardly individual. However, when in the line of duty, he became a leader among the Garrison, barking orders and taking charge of the defense of Shiganshina's inner gate. Even as he was about to be attacked, his only worry was making sure the gate closed before the Armored Titan reached it.
He, along with Hannes, teased Eren Yeager for being distressed about their tactless negligence in keeping the people within the Walls safe from the Titans. While Hannes tries to explain to Eren that they are safe behind the Walls, Hugo makes a comment about the Survey Corps.
He later conducts the evacuation of the Shiganshina District, shepherding citizens and commanding his fellow Garrison soldiers that man the cannons. They continue firing despite the cannons terrible accuracy, and even after hearing and seeing Shiganshina's inner gate begin to close. When the Armored Titan appears and charges towards the inner gate, he and his comrades try to repel it, but their attempts are futile and the Titan smashes through the gate, successfully breaching Wall Maria.