Freedom worth fighting for: For over a century, the Hughes family has served our country

Jul 10, 2013

In our country’s history, thousands of families have chosen to serve in the military generation after generation. One of the most extraordinary is the Hughes family, whose members have fought in many of the major military engagements of U.S. history. From Corporal Robert Anderson Hughes who fought in the Spanish-American War to the current generation that has served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Djibouti and Haiti, their shared commitment to serving our country is part of a rich family tradition.

At 69, patriarch William Foster Hughes is one of the oldest living members of the family. Hughes graduated with the storied West Point Class of 1966 and then joined the Army. He did three tours in Vietnam, flew 1,000 combat hours, and became a military doctor with the 101st Airborne. For his bravery, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Silver Star and the Purple Heart, among others. “The medals,” Colonel Hughes says, “were also recognition of the unit that I was with; they belong to my soldiers as well. Our family is but a representative of all those families out there that have served and sacrificed for this great country of ours.”

Like her father, Captain Carolyn Hughes graduated from West Point and then joined the Army. She completed five years of active duty and ended her service as a peacekeeper in Haiti. She said, “Serving in the military is a very personal and private thing. It has been that way in my family. It was for me personally and it will be for my daughter also if she chooses to go down that path.”

When Bank of America set out to profile a multi-generational military family, the search quickly led to West Point and the Hughes family, who stood out for their long history of patriotism. The production team toured the family homestead, which was filled with memorabilia, and heard the details of the family’s legacy of service.

Award-winning director Samuel Bayer was chosen as the director. Bayer’s father-in-law had served with Special Forces in Vietnam and had impressed him with his sacrifice. In addition to interviewing family members, Bayer filmed period re-creations of a soldier riding with the cavalry during the Battle of Argonne Forest in World War I and parachuting into Normandy during World War II. He also filmed a Hughes family reunion, the first in ten years, which brought together dozens of relatives and friends. 

Bank of America has been supporting military families for over 90 years, helping veterans return to civilian life by providing safe and affordable housing, training and job opportunities. The bank was gratified to be able to find a family that so well represented the commitment to serve our country over so many generations.  

Says Jeff Cathey, senior military affairs executive at Bank of America, “When people commit to military service, sacrificing so much for our freedom, it’s nothing short of inspiring. And when a family is dedicated to duty, honor and country over several generations, the power of their commitment transcends individual sacrifice. It’s a level of sustained allegiance that should speak to all of us.”

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