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Steve “Cowboy” Hughes
Steve “Cowboy” Hughes
Steve “Cowboy” Hughes

Steve “Cowboy” Hughes, Lt. Col., USAF (Ret), went west quietly in the early morning hours of Aug. 12, 2020.  For those of us fortunate enough to have been in his orbit, the world is a much less colorful place today.  

Born in Georgia on Aug, 29, 1964, Steve was a 1986 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy. A loving husband and devoted father, he will be best remembered by those closest to him as the consummate fighter pilot. Over the course of his 20-year career, he flew combat missions in support of Operation Deny Flight (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Operation Northern Watch, Operation Allied Force (Kosovo), and Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan). A fierce warrior, Steve always led from the front and loved every minute of it. The most dangerous place for an adversary was to be in his sights, and the best place to be for a friend was to have him on your wing. His decorations and awards include the Distinguished Flying Cross with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters and the Chenault Award for being an Outstanding Air Force Tactician. He will be remembered by those closest to him for his dry sense of humor, his boisterous wit and his zest for life. 

Thanks, Steve for teaching us to live every day as though it might be your last; teaching us to wade into the fray without hesitation and make every shot count; and making sure those closest to us know every day how important they are.

Steve is preceded in death by his mother, Tilda Tinsley Tilton; all his grandparents, Hubert and Louise Tinsley Sr. and Hubert and Era Hughes; his aunt, Diane Bowers; uncles Joseph Bryce Tinsley, Loy Dean, Lamar Jake and Dennis James Hughes. He is survived by his father, Douglas Hughes; his loving wife, Van; his daughter, Delaney Hughes; his son, Jake Hughes, 2nd Lt., USAF; his sisters, Susan Hughes, Starr (David) Hume, Candice (Sean) Ryan; his uncle and aunts, Hubert Tinsley, Gloria Wright, Deanna Lancaster, all of Dawsonville, Linda Tinsley, Deborah Lewis; his nieces and nephews that adored him, Garrett, Gavin and Hayden Wilson, Blair and Braxton Hume, Brock, Scarlett and Faye Ryan; and his nearly two dozen younger cousins.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, please donate to the Air Warrior Courage Foundation ( in honor of Steve “Cowboy” Hughes.