Honoree William M Hughes Jr
William M. “Bill” Hughes Jr. has been a resident of Hampton Bays for over 40 years.
A native of Bayside, Queens and former Eagle Scout, Bill joined the United States Air Force at age 19 during the Vietnam War and served as a pararescueman or "PJ" from 1969 to 1974. Bill's team was an elite group that focused on rescuing pilots shot down behind enemy lines in Laos and Cambodia. During this time, he was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross for his "single acts of heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight." He also received the Meritorious Service Medal, as well as other awards such as being inducted into the New York State Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame in 2016.
After Vietnam, Bill was a founding member of the Pararescue Team of the 106th Rescue Group New York Air National Guard in Westhampton, which brought him to the East End in 1975. He worked as one of the base’s first full-time cadres/flight instructors until his retirement in 1991, having attained the rank of Senior Master Sergeant.
Making Hampton Bays their home, Bill and his wife Linda raised two children, Elizabeth and Will, and are now grandparents. In 1981, Bill was hired as a patrol officer with the Southampton Town Police Department and later was the commanding officer of its patrol division. His professional journey included graduating from the FBI’s National Academy and serving as head of the Town’s emergency response unit. He retired with the rank of Lieutenant in March 2010, capping a public service career of more than four decades.
Outside of his professional work, Bill has established himself as an active participant in the community at-large. He is the Past Grand Knight of the Hampton Bays Knights of Columbus Council 7023 and a Eucharistic Minister for Saint Rosalie's Church. He has been a member of the Hampton Bays Civic Association, the Michael Collins Division 11 of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and a mainstay coach for Hampton Bays Little League and other youth sports.
Most of all, despite being retired from military service, Bill has never retired from volunteer service to America’s armed forces or her veterans. He is a long time member of the Hand Aldrich Post 924 of the American Legion Post, the Friends of 106th, and has been Commander of the Dayton-Soehike-Ohlhorst VFW Post 5350 in Westhampton for over 12 years. His tenure includes overseeing the post’s move from Quogue to its current location, as well as earning the distinction of being named “All American” and “Legacy Life” member of the national Veterans of Foreign Wars.
His other charitable pursuits include serving as Director of the Pararescue Benevolent Association and earning the “Top Fundraiser” award for the local Wounded Warrior Project's Solider Ride in 2009 and 2010.