Daniel V. Hughes - USMC - Palm Coast, FL

Education and Training Accomplishments: 

  • Graduated Penns Grove High School, Penns Grove, NJ, 1954 Played on the football team four years Union Carpentry School, Wilmington, DE, 1952 New Jersey Vocational School of Drafting, 1958 
  • Marine Corps Training Basic Training (Bootcamp), Parris Island, SC, 1954 Wireman’s Training, Camp LeJeune, NC, 1954

Summary of Employment History:

  • 1954-1957 – Marine Corps Active Duty – served on active duty in the United States Marine before being medically retired due to disability on 8/24/1961, duty stations included serving in the Fleet Marine Force, the United States Retraining Command in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Corporal of a Marine Corps Cell Block, a prison for approximately20,000 persons. Became ill during his last year of tour of duty, the Marine Corps assigned him to disability retired list and then retired me at the 10-year mark as I was unfit for active duty. 
  • 1957 -1966  – First Class Millwright, E.l. DuPonts, Deep Water, NJ Attended drafting school at night, one of the projects that I worked on was building the Salem County Sportsman Club, from which I received their Outdoorsman Award and gained honorary Life Membership 1960 – 1966. 
  • 1966 -1980 – Boat/Marina business , family owned. Ocean City, MD Services included docking, mooring and storage for boat. Repairs, refueling, boating supplies and other needed services for boat owners and renters were provided. 
  • 1980 -1982  – Project Coordinator, Environmental Protection Agency, NJ Managed projects across the entire state, which included building bulk heads, jetties, groins and dredging. 
  • 1982 -1992 – Union Carpenter, Various Casinos, Atlantic City, NJ Worked as a finish carpenter building casinos. 
  • 1992 – Present – Retired to Palm Coast, FL 

Advocacy on Behalf of Veterans: 

  • 1987-2021 – Disabled American Veterans – During this period of time he has been instrumental in assisting our disabled and homeless veterans build a better life for themselves and their families. 
  • 1992-2021 – Member of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) – He has held every position of responsibility in his VFW Post, and he has been recognized for his contributions to the VFW as follows: – 1994 -1995 – VFW Buddy Poppy Award – 1996 -1997 – All American VFW Post Commander – 1999-2000 – VFW Post 8696 Commander 
  • 1995 – 2021 – Commandant, Marine Corps League Detachment 826 – 1995 Marine Corps League Distinguished Service Medal – Received for his outstanding performance of duty as the Detachment Commandant and for his superior leadership providing emergency aid and assistance to hundreds of disabled veterans and their families. 
    2011 Citizen of the Year Award – for Contributions to North Florida communities from Marine Corps League 
  • 1997-2021 – American Legion 
  • 1998 – Established the Salute to Vietnam Veterans, VFW, Post 8696 
  • 2010-2014 – District Director, Florida Veterans Foundation (FVF) – Served as the District 2 Director of the FVF where he was responsible for 7 counties located in the North Eastern part of Florida. I want to highlight that the FVF operates as the direct support organization to the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs (FDVA) as authorized by the Florida Legislature in 2008. In this capacity, FVF is the agency which provides emergency financial support to our Florida veterans and their families and this support is usually provided within 24 hours after an application for services is submitted. Mr. Hughes was also responsible for the fund-raising efforts in District #2, which is how the FVF is funded. 95% of the funds raised go directly to our veterans who are in financial crisis. Due to the outstanding efforts of Mr. Hughes, hundreds of veterans in District 2 are now living better lives and thriving in their communities. (See Enclosure #2), which shows Mr. Hughes accepting a $10,000.00 check for the FVF emergency relief fund for veterans. 
  • 2010-2015 – Chairman of the National VA Cemetery Committee, Jacksonville, FL  
  • 2011 – Citizen of the Year Award from the National VA Cemetery – Received while serving as the Commander of VFW Post 8696 in Jacksonville, FL, Mr. Hughes recognized the urgent need for a National VA Cemetery in the Northeastern part of the state of Florida. He demonstrated great initiative by taking responsibility to start a campaign to bring this matter to the attention of all veterans living in this area, and to the legislators who represent this part of the state. What started out as Mr. Hughes responding to an urgent need became a 24-year project from initiation to completion, one in which he spent 1,000’s of hours working and traveling many 1,000’s of miles driving back and forth between Jacksonville and Washington D.C., working tirelessly to gain approval for the building of a new National VA cemetery. He later campaigned for a new road to be built from Interstate 95 to the cemetery, in order to make it more accessible for families visiting their loved ones. The cost of this new road amounted to over 2 million dollars, which was in addition to the cost of the cemetery, which brought the total expenditure for the cemetery and road to over 4 million dollars. Key legislators who advocated for the project included Congressmen John Mica and Andrew Crenshaw (FL) and Jim Kingston (GA.) However, as was stated by both Representative Mica and Crenshaw, none of this would have been accomplished without the determination and visionary thinking, not to mention the dogged perseverance demonstrated day in and day out, throughout this 24-year period by Dan Hughes. During the entire time, Dan Hughes’s participation never wavered in this most worthwhile project, which is particularly noteworthy given his state of poor health which included suffering from great pain as a direct result of the disabling condition for which he was medically retired from active duty in the 

Civic Activities and Contributions: 

  • 1980 – 2021 Member of the Boy Scouts of America 
  • Served as Scout Master 
  • Chairman of Scout Master Leadership Program, National Camp Inspector, Jamboree Leader 
  • Received Wood Badge and Silver Beaver Awards 
  • National Jamboree Scout Master 
  • World Jamboree Staff 
  • Chairman Scout Show 
  • District Award of Merit 
  • 1994-1995 – Chairman of the Buddy Poppy and received the Buddy Poppy Award – All American Commander Award, VFW (FL) 
  • 1997-1998 – Chairman of the National Cemeteries for the state of FL – Traveled throughout the state to visit all of the VA National cemeteries 
  • 2010-2015 – Chairman of the National VA Cemetery Committee, Jacksonville, FL – Mr. Hughes 24-year contribution from inception to completion of the Jacksonville National Cemetery is an enormous contribution to the Northeast sector of our state. As noted in detail in Section 5, in the review of his Citizen of the Year Award from the National VA Cemetery, it bears repeating given the enormity of his civic contribution to his community that he is truly unequaled in the number of lives that his hard work touches each and every year in the Northeast Florida community. In fact, it would require a full book to report all of the day to day, month to month, culminating in yearly tasks which Mr. Hughes contributed to make this VA cemetery a reality for our Northeastern FL and South Georgia veterans. It would be appropriate to name this VA cemetery “The Corporal Daniel Hughes, VA National Cemetery in lieu of the many years of his life that he contributed on behalf of our veterans and their surrounding community. Over 18,000 veterans are laid to rest in this cemetery. 
  • 2011 – Citizen of the Year Award for Contributions to North Florida

Awards and Honors:

  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Navy Occupation Medal, with European Clasp
  • VFW Buddy Poppy Award
  • Salute to Veterans Award, VFW
  • All American VFW Post Commander
  • All State VFW Post Commander
  • Distinguished Service Award, Marine Cops League 
  • Boy Scouts of America, 60 Years’ Service Award 
  • Boy Scouts of America, District Award of Merit 
  • Citizen of the Year, Marine Corps League
  • Salem County Sportsman Club, Outdoorsman Award 
  • Boy Scouts of America, Star Scout Award 

Written Narrative: 

Written by Major John Haynes, the nominator. As a member of the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame, Inaugural class of 2013,1 proudly recommend this all American Veteran for induction into the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame. Mr. Hughes is known in Veteran’s circles as a “Veteran’s Veteran.” A Veteran that has given so much to his fellow citizens and Veterans. He has served in several Veterans Service Organizations, in which most of his time has been as an officer. He has served as an All-American Commander, and All State Commander in the VFW. In the Marine Corps League, he served as a Detachment Commandant where he was awarded the Distinguished Service Award. In the Florida Veterans Foundation, he served as a District Director covering seven counties in Northeast Florida. He served as the Chairman of the Jacksonville VA Cemetery Committee for 5 years (out of the 24 years that he served also as a member of this committee) and he was commended on multiple occasions for his attention to duty and “can do” attitude. His extraordinary service of 60 years as a leader in the Boy Scouts of America, where he received many awards for his service to the youth of America is commendable and deserves recognition. 

While I was serving as the Chairman/CEO of the Florida Veterans Foundation, Mr. Hughes served as one of my Deputy Directors and I personally selected him because of his deep loyalty to the veterans community and to our country. The personal example that he sets as a tireless performer is an inspiration to all that have the good fortune to work with him. His work ethic is matched by few because going the extra mile is what he considers normal, there is no task too difficult for this Veteran leader who is unmatched in his loyalty at all times. Mr. Hughes only retired from his leadership position with the Florida Veterans Foundation due to a serious health condition, which is military rated.

During my service as a District Commander in the VFW, I received an assignment as an additional duty to organize a new Eagle Scout Program for the State of Florida. This program was one at the National level which required that a National Scout would be selected each year by competition between all of the Districts within each state. After each state selected a state Eagle Scout of the year, they would then compete in this National Competition for the title of National Eagle Scout of the year. I selected Dan Hughes to serve as my assistant for the Florida Eagle Scout program due to his extensive history and leadership positions within the Boy Scouts of America organization. The Florida Eagle Scout who was selected, then entered into the National level of competition, where he was judged as the #1 Eagle Scout in America. This accomplishment included a trip for this Scout to the White House where he would receive his National Eagle Scout of the Year Award from the President of the United States. I attribute a great deal of the success of our State Eagle Scout Program directly to Mr. Hughes leadership and I am very proud of the example that he set for our young Boy Scouts, the future leaders of America. 

It is also very noteworthy that due to Mr. Hughes tireless efforts and advocacy over a 24 year period, we have a National Veterans Cemetery in Jacksonville, Florida. He wrote countless letters, made many trips to Tallahassee and Washington D.C. to campaign for a new National Cemetery in N.E. Florida. During this time, he worked closely with Congressman John Mica and he helped create the National Cemetery Advisory Committee, while also leading the teams that built Phases I and II. Mr. Hughes was instrumental in helping raise the funds needed for this complex project, which included the building of a Bell Tower that chimes every hour on the hour at the entrance of the National Cemetery, playing taps every night at 10:00 pm. The comfort and inspiration that his tireless work over 24 years gives to the families that visit their loved ones at the cemetery is priceless. 

In closing, I want to state unequivocally that I would be honored to have this Veteran stand by my side as a member of the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame. This disabled veteran has truly touched the lives of more veterans and their families than anyone I know. He has personally provided aid and assistance to hundreds of veteran’s widows, helping them file benefits claims with the VA for Dependency and Indemnity (DIC), after the death of their husbands, a time of grief and utter loss for the widow. This was a priceless additional benefit that Corporal Daniel Hughes, USMC (Ret.) took responsibility for, which once again displays his great leadership abilities, always one to go above and beyond the call of duty. In essence, Dan Hughes is the epitome of someone who embodies all of the attributes that is true of our Florida Hall of Fame inductees. Please grant this nomination knowing that the board has selected a candidate who has given his all in service to his country, state, and community.