Lloyd “Pete” Hughes studied Petroleum Engineering at the Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas, where he was a member of Company G, Infantry.
Hughes enlisted in the Army Air Corps in January 1942 as an Aviation Cadet, earning his pilot’s wings later that year. Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1943, he was assigned to the 564th Heavy Bombardment Squadron, 389th Heavy Bombardment Group. Initially sent to Africa, Hughes began his participation in five combat missions in the Italy-Romania area.
During Operation Tidal Wave, 178 B-24 Liberator heavy bombers took off on an 18-hour, 2,400-mile round-trip mission to destroy the largest of the Nazi-held oil refineries at Ploieşti, Romania. Flying through intense anti-aircraft fire, the plane was severely damaged, leaking gas from the bomb bay and left wing tanks.
Instead of attempting a forced landing of his damaged aircraft before reaching the target area, Hughes elected to continue on, rather than jeopardize the success of the mission. He flew into a wall of fire at 30 feet above the ground and dropped his bomb load with precision. After completing his bomb run, his aircraft cartwheeled into the ground. Of the ten-man crew, Hughes and six others were killed on August 1, 1943. Of the survivors, one died of his wounds and two became prisoners of war.
Hughes was the first Texas Aggie awarded the Medal of Honor.