Donald G. Hughes
Master Sergeant
U. S. A. F.

He was born in Wood Bay, West Virginia, to Walter and Mary Louise Graham Hughes as the fifth of ten children. Walter was employed as a coal miner while Mary worked as a housewife. Donald hunted with his father for food, but never for sport. "Daddy said if we weren't going to eat it, don't shoot it," he recalls. He also helped the family grow tobacco, corn, and beans. In 1952 the family moved to Beckley, West Virginia, where he graduated from Stratton High School in1956. "I graduated Tuesday; Friday I was in the military," he recalls. Donald volunteered for the U.S. Air Force after watching his brothers and other young men serve during the Korean War. "We said, `Well, when we get old enough, we're going to go," he recalls. Donald soon discovered the military, although integrated, quietly denied blacks entry into certain military occupations. "They wouldn't openly tell you," he says. "All they wanted blacks to do was to become cooks, supply, and air police." Donald was sent into supply/logistics. He was posted to Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico, then, from 1957 to 1961, was stationed in Germany. There he visited three of his brothers, who were also serving in Europe. From 1961 to 1963 he was stationed in downtown Newark, working with Air Force Reserves. Posted to Warner Robins Air Force Base near Macon, Georgia, he found race relations there "worse than it was in the fifties," he says. He recalls boarding a bus going from the base into Macon. At the main gate, the driver stopped the bus and "made all of the blacks get in the back," he recalls. Even on base were separate water fountains for black and white. From 1968 to 1969 he was at Michigan's Wurtsmith Air Force Base, then was sent to Vietnam from 1969 to 1970, still working in supply. After returning from Vietnam he was stationed at March Air Force Base near Riverside, California until 1978. He found Vietnam veterans unpopular when he returned. "We were called baby killers and all that," he says. "You didn't even want to put on your uniform; not to go downtown." From 1978 to 1980 he was back in Germany, a duty station he requested. By then, Donald was a master sergeant, in charge of "twenty to twenty-seven people." His last duty station was Barksdale Air Force Base from 1980 to 1985. In 1984 he met Lola Johnson. They would have seven children and six grandchildren. Donald retired in 1985 as a master sergeant. He enrolled at Grambling State University on the GI Bill, graduating in 1990 in business management.