Veteran of the Week: Hughes is SCHS 100th anniversary speaker

Pictured is Lt. Col. Earl Hughes when he was in the U.S. Army. Dr. Hughes, SCHS 1963 and West Point 1967 graduates, will be the keynote speaker at the SCHS Centennial Celebration on April 18. (Contributed)

Pictured is Lt. Col. Earl Hughes when he was in the U.S. Army. Dr. Hughes, SCHS 1963 and West Point 1967 graduates, will be the keynote speaker at the SCHS Centennial Celebration on April 18. (Contributed)

By PHOEBE DONALD ROBINSON / Community Columnist

The Shelby County High School 100-year celebration will be Sunday, April 18 from 2-4 p.m.

Keynote speaker will be Dr. Emmett Earl Hughes ‘63, U.S. Army Lt. Col. (Retired).

Hughes grew up in the Fourmile community, the youngest child of Emmett and Daisy Hughes. Siblings Bill ’55, Preston ’57 and Patsy (Armstrong) ’61 graduated from SCHS.

He married Angela Skelton ’63 and they have two sons, Kenneth (Harvard ’99) and Arthur (Harvard ’00), who both practice medicine in California.

At SCHS graduation, Hughes received a U.S. Senatorial appointment to West Point.

In 1967, he graduated from West Point with a B.S. in engineering and physics and was commissioned as an infantry second lieutenant.

He fought in the Vietnam War from 1968-1969 as an Airborne Ranger leading the 2nd Platoon, A Company, 2/505th Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division.

He was awarded many medals including the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Legion of Merit, two Bronze Stars with “v” for valor, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and Purple Heart.

After Vietnam, he commanded two companies and one battalion in Germany. He received his master’s and Ph.D. in physics, was an honor graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and taught physics for three years at West Point.

The last half of his Army career was in missile and defense research to help the Star Wars initiative develop the anti-intercontinental ballistic missile defenses for the nation.

He also helped develop the Hellfire and Longbow anti-tank tactical missiles systems, both used extensively in the Gulf and Iraq wars.

Since retirement, Hughes has worked for aerospace firms as group manager, chief operations officer and consultant using his expertise in air and missile defense.

“I am deeply honored to deliver the keynote address at SCHS Centennial Celebration,” said Hughes. “My decision to go to West Point was based, in part, upon my excellent math and science curriculum and my deep-seated patriotic ideals borne out of a very patriotic school setting where the pledge of allegiance was said and National Anthem was sung during all school assemblies, ball games and other gatherings.”

About Phoebe Donald Robinson

I am President of Donald Real Estate and Ins. Co., Inc., a company that my grandfather , Charles J. Donald, founded in 1925. I am the third generation owner of the business. I am also the Columbiana Columnist for the Shelby County Reporter.

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