Hughes, Lloyd Herbert “Pete” born 12-07-1921 in Alexandria, Louisiana, the only son of Lloyd Herbert Hughes Sr. and Mildred Mae Rainey Hughes. Family and friends called him Pete. One source described his parents as Welsh immigrants, but Mildred was born in Josserand, Trinity County, Texas. The family lived in Alexandria only briefly before moving to his mother’s native state of Texas.
He graduated from Refugio High School, Refugio, Texas, in 1939 and went on to attend Corpus Christi Junior College in Corpus Christi and Texas A&M University in College Station. He studied petroleum engineering at Texas A&M and was a member of the class of 1943, but left school before graduating. A few weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor he joined the military. He entered the military service at San Antonio on January 28-01-1942, at the age of 20, and was appointed an aviation cadet the same day. On 08-11-1942, Hughes married Hazel Dean Ewing. After his death in 1943, Hazel married 2) Robert C. “Tex” Stubblefield on 23-02-1945 in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas.
After attending flight school in Tulsa and Enid, Oklahoma, Hughes received his pilot’s wings at Lubbock, Texas, on 10-11-1942. He was assigned to the 389th Bombardment Group, went to Africa in June 1943, and participated in five combat missions in the Italy-Romania area.
During Operation Tidal Wave, the most highly decorated military mission in U.S. history, 179 B-24 Liberator heavy bombers took off on an 18-hour, 2,400 mile round trip mission to destroy the largest of the oil refineries at Ploieşti, 30 miles north of Bucharest, Romania. Operation Tidal Wave was an air attack by bombers of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) based in Libya and Southern Italy on nine oil refineries around Ploiești, Romania on 01-8-1943 The raid would not be a success. Fifty-four aircraft never returned and of the five U.S. Air Force airmen, including 2nd Lieutenant. Lloyd Herbert Hughes were awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery; three of which, including Hughes, would receive the award posthumously.
Death and burial grouind of Hughes, Lloyd Herbert “Pete”.
During the 01-08-1943 bombing mission over the Câmpina oil fields north of the Ploieşti oil fields in Romania, Hughes was the pilot of a B-24 flying in the last element of a formation. When he arrived in the target area the enemy defenses were already alerted by previous aircraft. He approached the target at a planned, but dangerously low altitude, through intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire and densely arranged barrage balloons. Several hits from both large and small caliber anti-aircraft guns seriously damaged his aircraft and caused gasoline to leak from tanks in the bomb bay and left wing. The leak was so heavy that it blinded his waist gunner’s view. Hughes could have attempted a forced landing of his damaged aircraft in one of the surrounding grain fields before he reached the target area which was blazing with burning oil tanks and refinery equipment. Flames were reaching high above the bombing level of the formation. Knowing the consequences of entering the inferno with his airplane leaking gasoline in two places, Hughes elected to carry on, rather than jeopardize the formation and the success of the attack. He flew into the wall of fire at about 30 ft (9.1 m) above the ground and dropped his bomb load with precision.
He emerged from the conflagration with the left wing of his aircraft on fire. He attempted to pull up and away from the action, trying to save his plane and crew. He successfully slowed the plane’s speed from 225 to 100 miles an hour. It looked as if he would be able to crash land in the dry river bed of the Prahova River, when suddenly the left wing flew off and the plane cartwheeled into the ground. Of the ten men aboard the B-24, Hughes, aged 22 and five others were killed, two died of their wounds within days and the two who survived the crash became prisoners of war.
On 13-11-2010, he was inducted into the Louisiana Military Hall of Fame in Abbeville, Louisiana and is buried on Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, USA, Plot/Section U, Site 53.