Hughes, Starlin Harry

Johnson City, Tennessee




Private First Class

Military Occupational Specialty (MOS):


Unit(s) Served In:

47th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division

Service Dates:

01 Sep 1941  -  01 Jul 1945


Starlin Harry Hughes served with the 47th "Raiders" Infantry Regiment in the 9th "Octofoil" Infantry Division during World War II. Private First Class Hughes died June 11, 1994 — exactly 50 years to the day when he stepped ashore Utah Beach in Normandy, France.

From October 1941 to September 1945, Private First Class Hughes trained and fought with the United States Army from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, through seven of the 9th Infantry Division's eight World War II campaigns — Algeria-French Morocco, Tunisia, Sicily, Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, and Ardennes. By war's end, Pfc. Hughes had acquired enough points to return home and did not have to serve in the 9th's final campaign of military occupation in Central Europe. Throughout the war, Pfc. Hughes served in F Company, 47th "Raiders" Infantry Regiment, 9th "Octofoil" Infantry Division.

Hughes lived through one of the mightiest endeavors this world has ever known and returned home to participate in history's next big event — the Baby Boom. Not long after walking the final trail home in his native North Carolina, Starlin Harry Hughes married his wartime sweetheart, Mildred Louise Leonard, and conceived a daughter, Mollie, and a son, Richard, respecitvely.

According to the book The History of the 47th Infantry Regiment, the original five-toed Imperial Chinese dragon in the upper left-hand corner of the 47th Infantry Regiment's regimental crest symbolizes the 9th Infantry Division's accomplishments in the Boxer Rebellion of 1900.

The book also states that the 47th was later formed from the 9th Infantry Division. The green "Ivy" cross is representative of the 47th Infantry Regiment serving with the 4th "Ivy" Infantry Division during World War I.

According to Joseph B. Mittelman's Eight Stars to Victory: A History of the Veteran Ninth U.S. Infantry Division, "the Octofoil dates back to the 15th century when it was customary for each son to have an individual mark of distinction.

"Perhaps Octo, meaning eight, is a bit confusing to many when speaking of the Ninth Division. But in foiling there are eight foils (positions) and heraldic rules gave the Octofoil to the ninth son, since it was symbolic of his being surrounded by eight brothers; which is an explanation of why this eight-petaled insignia is correct for the Ninth Regular Army Division.

"The design chosen for the Ninth consists of a red quatrefoil atop a blue quatrefoil with a white center. The red stands for the artillery, the blue for the infantry, and the white denotes the color of numerals found on division flags. Surrounding the Octofoil is a rim of olive drab — symbolic of nothing else than the U.S. Army."

Throughout the rest of his life, Hughes remained a lifetime member of the Disabled American Veterans, Tennessee Post No. 13, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, John Sevier Post No. 2108, Johnson City, Tenn.

Following 35 years of service as a nursing assistant, Hughes retired from the same place he eventually drew his last breath — the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Mountain Home, Tenn. He served the United States and its military service veterans for approximately 40 years. Like many veterans, however, the U.S. government forgot him and never sent the medals he so gallantly earned during the Second World War.

Hughes was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, Bronze Star, Purple Heart with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Good Conduct Medal, Distinguished Unit Badge, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Theater of Operations Medal with seven Bronze Service Stars, and the World War II Victory Medal.

"There were a lot more men who sacrificed their lives over there who deserve these medals more than I ever will," Hughes said once. "I'm not any better than any of those guys who died for our country. I'm no better than any other man."