USAF Museum
WW II History
Combat Europe

Lt. Lloyd H. Hughes

Medal of Honor citation for the Ploesti Mission

Second Lieutenant Lloyd H. Hughes, Air Corps, United States Army.

For conspicuous gallantry in action and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. On 1 August 1943 Lieutenant 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 airplane 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 Lieutenant 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. Will full knowledge of the consequences of entering this blazing inferno when his airplane was profusely leaking gasoline in two separate locations, Lieutenant 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 airplane crashed and was consumed. By Lieutenant Hughes' heroic decision to complete his mission regardless of the consequences, in utter disregard for his own life, and by his gallant and valorous execution of this decision, he rendered a service to our country in the defeat of our enemies which will be everlastingly outstanding in the annals of our nation's history.

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