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


State Medal of Honor recipients, heroes due honors

State military heroes, including two Medal of Honor recipients closely tied to Barksdale Air Force Base, will be inducted into the next class of heroes at the Louisiana Military Hall of Fame and Museum in Abbeville.

The Nov. 13 ceremony will bring into hall membership the late Col. John Riley Kane, a former Shreveporter who was awarded a Medal of Honor for his leadership during one of the most harrowing aerial attacks of World War II, an almost suicidal attack on Nazi-controlled oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania.

Kane, the son of respected Cedar Grove Baptist minister John Franklin Kane, joined the Air Force in Shreveport and was stationed at Barksdale in the late 1930s, when it was an Army airfield.

A second honoree in the ceremony will be Capt. Lloyd H. Hughes, who died in the same Aug. 1, 1943, raid in which Kane earned his Medal of Honor.

Flying in the last formation to attack the target, Hughes flew his bomber through intense and accurate antiaircraft fire and balloon barrages at low altitude, with his plane getting numerous direct hits that caused sheets of high-octane gasoline to stream from the bomb bay and left wing. Though he could have made a forced landing on nearby grain fields, he chose instead to fly into the inferno of the target, his aircraft emerging with its left wing aflame and crashing.

Hughes was born in Alexandria and lived there briefly before his mother returned to her native Texas, where Hughes was reared. He also was awarded a Medal of Honor, though posthumously, for his heroism in that mission. He was 22 years old when he died.

Organizers have been able to reach relatives of Hughes to represent him at the ceremony, but have been unable to reach any of Kane's family. His first wife, former Shreveport Pansy Inabnett, had one child, John Franklin Kane II. He was last known to be living in Pennsylvania.

"We are searching for family," said museum spokeswoman Paula Finley, adding Kane's image will be carved into granite with the text from his Medal of Honor citation. "We would love to invite his family and friends to the event."

Kane, who died in 1996 at age 89, led the 98th Bomb Group, the Pyramidiers, in the Ploesti raid. Almost 200 B-24 bombers flew a low-level attack from airfields in North Africa over the Mediterranean Sea and on treetop-level runs over the Balkan countryside. Thoroughly alerted German fighter defenses swarmed the bombers, downing more than a third of the force and killing hundreds of fliers. In all, five Medals of Honor were earned that day, the most ever awarded for a single military action.

Aside from Kane, at least two other recipients of the Medal from that mission had ties to Barksdale. The other living recipient, Col. Leon Johnson, also was stationed here and later was promoted to four-star general. Major John Jerstad, who like Hughes was killed in the raid, underwent B-24 pilot training at Barksdale.

Other honorees in the Nov. 13 event will be James H. Diamond and Edward R. Schowalter Jr., both of New Orleans.

Schowalter, who died in late November 2003 at age 75, was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism on Oct. 14, 1952, in the Korean War. When his platoon came under vicious small-arms, grenade, and though wounded, he continued to spearhead the assault. Refusing medical aid, he led his men into the trenches and began routing the enemy from the bunkers with grenades. Though wounded again and again, he refused to relinquish command and continued issuing orders and encouraging his men.

Diamond also was a Medal of Honor recipient, but received his award posthumously. He was killed while in the Army in the Philippine Islands in May 1945. Over several days, he led charges on Japanese pillboxes, took on snipers and intentionally drew fire away from his patrol by charging a Japanese machine gun, suffering mortal wounds.


Source: Online article "State Medal of Honor recipients, heroes due honors" by John Andrew Prime dated 7 Sep 2010 in The Shreveport Times web site.

Created: June 11, 2011

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