By NED CURRAN - Caller-Times Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - Three Corpus Christi area men are members of the nation’s most select
company of heroes.
They are among the 3,169 winners of the Congressional Medal of Honor in the 100
years since it was established in 1861 as the country’s highest military decoration
for bravery and devotion.
Their names - Lloyd H. Hughes of Refugio and Corpus Christi, Jose Lopez of Mission
and William G. Harrell of Rio Grande City and Mercedes - and their deeds are listed
in a unique volume just published by Congress.
The book, a detailed history of the medal and all its winners, was prepared by
Sen. Ralph Yarborough’s veterans affairs subcommittee after two years of painstaking
Air Force 2nd Lt. Lloyd H. Hughes was Corpus Christi’s first winner. born in
Alexandria, La., he entered the service at Corpus Christi and died winning his medal
Aug. 1, 1943 in the air raid on the Ploesti old fields in Romania.
Hughes was graduated from Refugio High School and moved to Corpus Christi. He
attended Texas A&M and Del Mar College where he played basketball in 1941. He entered
the service about 18 months before his death.
Relatives in Corpus Christi include James M. Jordan, 337 Waverly; Paul N. Jordan,
4322 Tim; J. R. Jordan, 1466 Casa De Oro, all stepbrothers [sic - half brothers],
and T. F. Jordan [sic - J. R. Jordan], 1003 Sixth, his stepfather. Hughes
piloted his bomber, badly damaged by anti-aircraft fire and leaking gasoline, directly
over the burning oil fields, hit the target and then crashed in flames.
Sgt. Jose Lopez of the 2nd Infantry won his medal Dec. 17 1944, in Belgium. Carrying
a heavy machine gun, he covered the retreat of his company by standing his ground
in the face of a heavy German infantry and artillery attack. Lopez personally killed
at least 100 of the enemy. He is still in the army, stationed overseas.
Marine Sgt. William G. Harrell won his medal March 3, 1945 in Iwo Jima by defending
a command post in hand to hand combat. He lost both hands but managed to hold the
post and kill five Japanese.
Harrell on Aug. 9, 1964, shot and killed a man and his wife in San Antonio and
then committed suicide, according to the Bexar County Medical Examiner. The shootings
occurred at Harrell’s home there, where he settled after the war.
There were 48 other Texas medal winners in the Indian Wars, World Wars I and
II, Korea and Mexican and turn-of-the century Philippines actions.
The state is credited with a winner if he was born there or entered the service
there. All three of Texas’s first winners were cited for bravery in the Indian Wars.
Cpl. John J. Given of the U.S. Cavalry won his medal July 12, 1870, on the Wichita
River in Texas for "bravery in action" against Indians. His birthplace is listed
as Davis County, now named Cass County.
John McLennon, listed as a musician with the Seventh Infantry, won a medal Aug.
9, 1877, in an Indian action at Big Hole, Mont. His birthplace was Fort Belknap,
which was in the present Young County, but no longer exists.
Second Lt. Robert l. Howze won the medal Jan. 1, 1891, in an Indian action at
White River, S.D. Howze is listed simply as "born in Texas."
Texas’ most famous medal winner is probably Audie Murphy of Farmersville who
went on to become a movie star. He was cited for bravery Jan. 26, 1945, in France
for leading a valiant defense against a German tank attack.