Pete
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2nd Lt. Lloyd Herbert "Pete" Hughes, Jr.
(12 Jul 1921 - 1 Aug 1943)


Nation’s Highest Decoration Given Posthumously to Lt. Lloyd Hughes

Medal of Honor Award Ceremony

MEDAL OF HONOR FOR LT. LLOYD H. HUGHES - Above is pictured the ceremony at Kelly Field at which the Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously to Lt. Lloyd H. Hughes, bomber pilot, who was killed in the raid on the Ploesti oil field. Left to right: Mr. and Mrs. J. D. Ewing of San Antonio, parents of the lieutenant’s widow; Mrs. Hazel Dean Hughes, the widow, who received the medal from Lt. Gen. Barton K. Yount, and Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Jordan of Corpus Christi, parents of Lieutenant Hughes.

Lt. Lloyd H. Hughes, who in the face of certain death flew his blazing B-24 into the heart of the Ploesti oil fields of Romania to faithfully execute his bombing mission, was awarded the nation’s highest decoration posthumously in a ceremony yesterday (18 Apr 1944), in the office of Brig. Gen. A. W. Vanaman, commanding general, San Antonio Air Service Command, at Kelly Field.

The Medal of Honor, received by Lieutenant Hughes’ widow, Mrs. Hazel Dean Hughes, San Antonio, was presented by Lt. Gen. Barton K. Yount, commanding general of the Flying Training Command, who came to Kelly Field from his headquarters at Fort Worth to participate in the ceremony. The award was made by General Yount in behalf of Gen. H. H. Arnold, commanding general, Army Air Forces, at the direction of the President of the United States.

Lieutenant Hughes was a native of Alexandria, La., and lived most of his life in Corpus Christi [sic - Texas]. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Jordan, reside at 1113 Sixth Street.

Lieutenant Hughes’ daring exploit, in which he sacrificed his life to bomb his target rather than turn back or make a forced landing at available grain fields, was described in the citation read by Maj. Walter M. Van der Wolk, executive officer to the Chief, Decoration and Awards Branch, Army Air Forces Headquarters in Washington, D. C.

The lieutenant died when his plane was shot down Aug. 1, 1943.

The citation described his achievement as follows:

"On Aug. 1, 1943, Lieutenant Hughes served in the capacity of pilot of a heavy bombardment aircraft participating in a long and hazardous minimum altitude attack against the Axis oil refineries of Ploesti, Rumania, launched from the northern shores of Africa. Flying in the last formation to attack the target, he arrived in the target area after previous flights had thoroughly alerted the enemy defenses.

"Approaching the target through intense and accurate antiaircraft fire and dense balloon barrages at dangerously low altitude, his airplane received several direct hits from both large and small caliber antiaircraft guns which seriously damaged his aircraft, causing sheets of escaping gasoline to stream from the bomb bay and from the left wing. This damage was inflicted at a time prior to reaching the target when Lieutenant Hughes could have made a forced landing in any of the grain fields readily available at that time. The target area was blazing with burning oil tanks and damaged refinery installations from which flames leaped high above the bombing level of the formation.

"With full knowledge of the consequences of entering this blazing inferno when his airplane was profusely leaking gasoline in two separate locations, Lieutenant Hughes, motivated only by his high conception of duty which called for the destruction of his assigned target at any cost, did not elect to make a forced landing or turn back from the attack. Instead, rather than jeopardize the formation and the success of the attack, he unhesitatingly entered the blazing area and dropped his bomb load with great precision. After successfully bombing the objective, his aircraft emerged from the conflagration with the left wing aflame. Only then did he attempt a forced landing, but because of the advanced stage of the fire enveloping his aircraft, the airplane crashed and was consumed.

"By Lieutenant Hughes' heroic decision, he rendered a service to our country in the defeat of our enemies which will be everlastingly outstanding in the annals of our nation's history."

Nine other crew members of the B-24 were killed [sic - see below] and two are now prisoners of war.

The Purple Heart had previously been awarded to Lieutenant Hughes, posthumously.

He enlisted as a cadet in January, 1942, entered the Cadet Center in March of that year, and received his primary training at Tulsa and basic at Enid, Okla. He received his wings at Lubbock in November, 1942.

Two days before receiving his commission he married Hazel Dean Ewing, who now makes her home with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. D. Ewing.

Mrs. Hughes, a native San Antonian, is 21 and was graduated from Brackenridge High School in 1941. She later attended Draughon’s Business College here and is now employed in the SAASC Statistical Control Section at Kelly Field.


Corrections:

  • Pete was raised in many towns in Texas, like Onalaska, Oak Hurst, Huntsville, and Josserand. Sometime after 1931, the family moved to Refugio, Refugio County where Pete graduated from Refugio High School. It was only after that that he and his family moved to Corpus Christi. He thought of Refugio as his home town.

  • There were ten crew members: Six died in the crash, two died of their wounds within days and two survived to become prisoners of war.

  • Full identification of those in photo: Left to right: Jefferson Davis EWING, Etta Lelia CARLILE Ewing, Hazel Dean EWING Hughes, John Raymond JORDAN, Sr. and Mildred Mae RAINEY Hughes Jordan.

Source: Personal papers. Newspaper article from the Corpus Christi Times, Corpus Christi, Nueces County, Texas, USA, dated Wednesday, 19 Apr 1944. Also see newspaper article dated 15 Apr 1944.

Created: January 13, 2002

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