MOUNT VERNON — Samuel R. Hughes, now 91 years old, is a veteran of World War II who served in Company C 2755 engineer combat battalion. Drafted and inducted into the Army on Dec. 10, 1941, Hughes was a construction foreman and achieved the rank of staff sergeant, commanding a platoon.
Before being drafted, Hughes was a locomotive fireman for the Pennsylvania Railroad. That was before diesel engines, so he was responsible for stoking the steam engines with coal. There were conveyors that fed the coal to the locomotive from the coal car, so the firemen did not have to shovel it all by hand.
As a crew member on a cargo train, Hughes said, he saw things.
“I knew we were going to go to war before we even entered the war,” he said. “It was very simple to figure out. The armory outside was stockpiling arms, so you knew they figured on using them.”
Hughes earned a [rifle] sharpshooter badge during basic training and was deployed to Europe in August 1942. The trip to Inverness, Scotland, took about seven days by troop ship, Hughes said, and the Scots were very welcoming.