Harry W. Hughes was born in Greer County, Oklahoma Territory, near the town of Vinson on June 22, 1906. He was educated in the Vinson elementary school and Norman High School and holds a Master of Education degree from the University of Oklahoma.
While a freshman at OU in 1926, he enlisted in the 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment, serving in successive grades to include Sergeant Major of the battalion. In 1932 he was commissioned a second lieutenant and was with the unit when it was called to active duty in 1940. Assigned to command A Company of the Regiment, he was promoted to Captain and lead the unit as it entered combat with the invasion of Sicily in 1942. In October 1943, Hughes was reassigned as the Executive Officer of the 1st Battalion and later assumed command of the unit and was promoted to Major. During the war, he suffered 44 different wounds in Sicily, Italy and France, and subsequently served as an instructor of tactics at Ft. Benning, Ga., before being released from active duty. He also served in the Korean conflict as a battalion commander in the 179th Infantry and was wounded so seriously, he was medically evacuated in 1952 to the U.S. to serve as Senior Instructor of U.S. Army Schools in Oklahoma.
As a reserve officer he served as an instructor of the Command and General Staff Course in the 4155th U.S. Army Reserve School in Oklahoma City. He was promoted to Colonel in 1953. When not involved in full-time military activities, Hughes taught school throughout Oklahoma. The sense of ethics, character and duty which he conveyed to the youth he taught was later recognized in their own military service. Hughes' awards include the Silver Star, Bronze Star and seven Purple Heart medals, as well as the Combat Infantryman's Badge with Star. He died at the age of 87 in 1993.