Hugh Winters was born on March 11, 1913, in Society Hill, South Carolina. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1931, and was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy on June 6, 1935. His first assignment was as a gunnery officer aboard the battleship USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) from June 1935 to June 1936, followed by service as a gunnery and communications officer aboard the destroyer USS Hamilton (DD-141) from June 1936 to June 1937. LtJg Winters next attended pilot training at NAS Pensacola, Florida, and was designated a Naval Aviator in June 1938. He served as a pilot with VB-5 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5) from July 1938 to June 1940, followed by service as a flight instructor at NAS Pensacola from June 1940 to February 1942. LT Winters served briefly aboard the seaplane tender USS Matagorda (AVP-22) from February to March 1942, and then as Executive Officer of VF-9 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV-4) and then USS Essex (CV-9) from March 1942 to July 1943. During this time he participated in the North Africa landings during Operation Torch in November 1942. CDR Winters next served as Commanding Officer of VF-19 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-16) from August 1943 to June 1944, and then as Commander Air Group 19 aboard USS Lexington and then USS Enterprise (CV-6) from June 1944 to January 1945. He was credited with the destruction of 8 enemy aircraft in aerial combat plus 1 probable between September and November 1944. He served as Commanding Officer of the Instructors Advanced Training Unit at NAS Jacksonville, Florida, from January to April 1945, and then on the staff of the Chief of Naval Air Training at NAS Jacksonville, Florida, from April 1945 to June 1947. CDR Winters next attended Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia, from June 1947 to January 1948, followed by service as Air Officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS Midway (CV-41) from February 1948 to July 1949. He served on the faculty at the U.S. Naval Academy from July 1949 to February 1951, and then as Operations Officer on the Staff of Carrier Division TWO aboard the aircraft carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42) from February 1951 to July 1953. CAPT Winters attended Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, from July 1953 to February 1954, and was Commanding Officer of the seaplane tender USS Duxbury Bay (AVP-38) from January 1956 to April 1957. He was Commanding Officer of the aircraft carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42) from February 1959 to March 1960, and then served as Chief of Staff to the Commander, Naval Air Force, Atlantic Fleet, at Norfolk from March 1960 until his retirement from the Navy on July 1, 1961. Hugh Winters died on April 25, 2008, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
His 2nd Navy Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism as Leader of Fighter Plane and Target Coordinator in Fighting Squadron NINETEEN, attached to the U.S.S. LEXINGTON, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the Battle for Leyte Gulf, October 25, 1944. Although his own plane had been damaged by enemy fire during a strike against units of the Japanese Fleet, Commander Winters heroically flew at low altitude through a barrage of intense antiaircraft fire and skillfully directed his attacking aircraft in a determined aerial onslaught which resulted in the sinking of one large and one medium aircraft carrier. Persevering and unwavering, he then guided our cruisers in safety to another damaged aircraft carrier, thereby contributing materially to its subsequent sinking. By his skill, determination and courage maintained under extremely hazardous conditions, Commander Winters was instrumental in achieving a decisive victory over the Japanese Fleet during this Battle. His brilliant combat tactics and unswerving devotion to duty reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.