Rank and organization:   Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Corps, 564th
Bomber Squadron, 389th Bomber Group, 9th Air Force.
Place and date:   Ploesti
Raid, Rumania, 1 August 1943.
Entered service at:   San Antonio, Tex.
12 July 1921, Alexandria, La.
G.O. No.: 17, 26 February 1944.
For conspicuous gallantry in action and intrepidity at the risk of his
life above and beyond the call of duty. On August 1943, 2d Lt. 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 plane 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 2d Lt. 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,
2d Lt. 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 plane crashed and was consumed. By 2d Lt. Hughes' heroic decision to
complete his mission regardless of the consequences in utter disregard
of his own life, and by his gallant and valorous execution of this decision,
he has rendered a service to our country in the defeat of our enemies which
will everlastingly be outstanding in the annals of our Nation's history.
This data was extracted from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, U.S. Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients: 1863-1973 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1973)