By: Jane Lee
Seven Aggies were awarded Medals of Honor during World War II. The medal of
2nd Lt. Lloyd H. Hughes, Class of 1943, was presented to the Sanders Corps of
Cadets Center March 30.
The ceremony consisted of Hughes' family members, veterans, the A&M community
and members of the bomber group Hughes served in the day he gave his life for
Hughes was the first Aggie to receive the Medal of Honor, the nation's
highest award for valor in combat engagement.
Lisa Kalmus, curator of the Sanders Corps of Cadets Center, said Hughes
received the medal because of "his selfless action in World War II."
Growing up in Refugio, Texas, Hughes attended Texas A&M College as a
petroleum engineering major. He resigned from A&M for "personal reasons" a few
days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. On Jan. 28, 1942, Hughes enlisted in the
Army Air Forces.
On Aug. 1, 1943, Hughes served as a pilot of a bombardment aircraft that was
assigned to a low altitude mission against oil refineries of Ploesti, Romania,
the location that contained 60 percent of Germany's crude oil, the resource for
Hitler's war advances.
While on the mission, the aircraft received numerous hits from Nazi gunfire,
causing a gasoline leak from the bomb bay and the left wing. Instead of trying
to make a safe landing, Hughes and his 10-man crew made the decision to continue
the mission, even with close possibility of death.
"Hughes landed the bombs with perfect precision," Kalmus said.
Only after the mission was complete, Hughes began to find a safe landing
place. The flaming plane crash-landed in a river bed, killing Hughes and five
other members of the crew.
The Medal of Honor was presented posthumously to Hughes' wife, Hazel Ewing
Hughes, on April 18, 1944. Reasons for his award were his valor, self-sacrifice
and want of freedom, Kalmus said.
Steven Lenk, a cadet from Gator 2, explained the impact the Medal of Honor
has had on the Corps and Aggie community.
"The medal is the epitome of selflessness and to actually see it here at A&M
is not only an honor, but a privilege," said the junior recreation parks and
tourism sciences major.
The medal came to rest at A&M through the efforts of Col. James Woodall, a
former Corps commandant, whose wish is to bring all seven Medals of Honor that
were presented to the seven Aggies during World War II to A&M. A&M has four of
the seven medals.
Where to see the medal:
To view Hughes' medal, visit the Sanders Corps of Cadets Center, open