Staff Sergeant John St. Patrick Hughes, age 27, bid farewell to his wife and three little girls in Oregon when his regiment was the first to be transferred from the U.S. to join the “police action” in Korea.
A World War II veteran, Sgt. Hughes landed with the 38th Infantry Regiment at Pusan, South Korea. The date was August 19, 1950. He was about to participate in his second shooting war. By August 24, the 38th had advanced to relieve the shattered 19th Regiment. Their location on the Pusan Perimeter, west of Pusan, corresponded with that piece of real estate that would host the Second Battle of the Naktong Bulge. By the way, Sgt. Hughes was no relation to Philip Hughes, subject of “The Battle of Turkey Thicket.”
On September 6, Sgt. Hughes led a platoon tasked with planting land mines along a defensive perimeter. For reasons we’ll never know, one of the mines that Hughes was handling exploded unexpectedly. He died later that day of his wounds. He had been in Korea for 18 days.
Today, his daughters cling to their random memories of a father who sang funny little ad-libbed songs and taught them to roller skate. John St. Patrick Hughes’s remains were returned home to Milton-Freewater, Oregon. They celebrate his birthday every year: March 17. St. Patrick’s Day.