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

A Man Of Honor

By Stephanie Jeter ’06

His is a hero’s story with lots of action, battles and bravery. It’s one where words catch and snag on the stories of others to tangle time and the memories of brothers, soldiers and Aggie buddies.

Yet, even 65 years later, the untangling of Pete’s story has a way of untangling the other people in it.

Lloyd Herbert “Pete” Hughes ’43 was born in Alexandria, La., on July 12, 1921. That was the same year the Tomb of the Unknowns was dedicated in Arlington National Cemetery and that first unknown was awarded the Medal of Honor. Hughes would become a soldier, too, and upon his death in 1943, would have the same Medal of Honor drape the corners of his memory. Hughes, however, remains very much known. As the first of seven Aggies to be awarded the Medal of Honor, he remains remembered.

The people filed in for just that purpose, to be in attendance as Hughes’s Medal of Honor was formally presented to the Sanders Corps Center. Men in suit coats and women in heels; there were enough of them that March 30 that most every chair in the Corps Center was filled. It was a mixed group: Hughes’s family, Aggie Classmates, members of Hughes’ 389th Bombardment Group, and current students not wanting to miss the chance to listen once more to the story.

As the contagiousness of smiles spread around the room, Col. James Woodall ’50, Corps of Cadets commandant from 1977 to 1982, stepped up to the microphone to serve as narrator.

“In the fall of 1939, the handsome, 6-foot-2, 184-pound young man enrolled at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas,” Woodall started.

In high school, Hughes was captain of the basketball squad and football team; in college, he studied petroleum engineering and was a member of the Corps of Cadets Company G, Infantry.

School was hard. Life was hard. Hughes withdrew from TAMC briefly for both reasons. Once to work on scholastics at a junior college, and then, shortly after his return in 1941, to help support his family after his father became ill.

“Four days after leaving College Station, Pearl Harbor was bombed and America was at war,” Woodall said. Hughes was 20 years old when he enlisted as an aviation cadet in January 1942 and 22 when his group took flight as part of Operation Tidal Wave, the most highly decorated military mission in U.S. history, according to U.S. Air Force records.

Hughes was assigned to bomb a Nazi-held oil refinery in Campina. It was an 18-hour, 2,400-mile round-trip mission, and Hughes’ plane received several direct hits as it flew closer to the target. “Sheets of escaping gasoline streamed from the left wing and the extra fuel tanks,” Woodall said.

Flames from burning oil tanks leaped in the plane’s path. Woodall said Hughes could have made a forced landing in any of the grain fields, but rather than jeopardize the formation and the success of the mission, Hughes flew through the fire and put his bombs on target to have his plane crash in flames.

Hughes’s widow, Hazel, accepted the Medal of Honor on Hughes’ behalf April 18, 1944. And, Aggies accepted it this year to remember, tell and untangle the story of freedom.

Stephanie Jeter ’06 is a reporter, writer and photographer for Texas Aggie magazine and

Source: An article entitled, A Man Of Honor by Stephanie Jeter was published in the July-August 2009 edition of the Texas Aggie magazine.

Created: July 17, 2016

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