Hugh Rainey Awtrey was born in Marietta, Georgia, on May 23, 1903, son of Mrs. John (Sara Elizabeth Rainey) Awtrey and the late Mr. Awtrey. He received his early education in Marietta and at the Locust Grove Military Institute, Locust Grove, Georgia and attended Mercer University, Macon, Georgia, from which he received the degrees of Bachelor of Arts in 1925 and Master of Arts in 1926. Later, studying at the University Of Paris, France, he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 1932. Three of his five years, residence in France were spent on the editorial staff of the Paris Herald, the European edition of the New York Herald Tribune, and for briefer periods he worked with the Paris Times and the Paris edition of the Chicago Tribune.
He returned to the United States in 1932 and for two years was head of the Department of Modern Foreign Languages at Mercer University. From 1934 to 1936 he was an editorial and political writer for Hearst’s Atlanta Georgian, and for the five succeeding years was in charge of public relations in the Atlanta, Georgia and later the Richmond, Virginia, offices of National Park Service of the Department of the Interior, regional headquarters embracing twenty-three states east of the Mississippi River. There he edited the “Regional Review,” as semi- scientific monthly of the Department of the Interior. At the time of his entrance of duty in the US Naval Reserve, April 10, 1941, he was Acting Assistant Chief of Information f National Park Service, Department of the Interior, Washington, DC, and was released, for military duty, from that Department.
Commissioned Lieutenant in the US Naval Reserve, on November 14, 1940, he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander on October 1, 1942, and to Commander, to date from January 1, 1944. He was transferred from the Naval Reserve to the US Navy on July 27, 1947, and subsequently advanced to the rank of Captain, his date of rank January 1, 1952.
Reporting in April 1941 to the Navy Department, Washington, DC, he served for two years in the Office of Public Relations, Executive Office of the Secretary. He then attended a course at the Naval School of Military Government, Columbia University, New York City, which he completed in December of that year, at which time he received the degree of Master of Arts in Military Government. He next served on the staff f Commander, US Naval Forces in Europe, January until November 1944, and participated in planning activities for the invasion of Normandy. He reached Cherbourg immediately after its fall, as a member of the staff if Commander, Captured Ports.
Evacuated to England as a result of an injury, he returned to France in November 1944, to serve as Intelligence Officer on the staff of Commander, US Naval Forces, France. In July 1945 he became Executive Officer of the Commander of the newly formed US Naval Task Group, France, and upon the deactivation of that command on December 1, became Representative of Commander, US Naval Forces, Germany. He proceeded to Berlin on May 15, 1946, as Flag Secretary and Aide to Commander, US Naval Forces, Germany, and continued in that capacity until he was released from active duty in October 1946.
After his transfer from the Naval Reserve to the U.S Navy on June 27, 1947, he served as Security Review Officer, of Public Relations, Navy Department, Washington, DC. When detached in September 1949 he reported for duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, and during that tour of duty, ending in February 1952, he was assigned for the last six months to the State-Defense Military Information Control Committee. In April 1952 Captain Awtrey assumed the duties of US Naval Attaché and Naval Attaché for Air, New Delhi, India, and Kathmandu, Nepal, serving in that capacity until March 1955. In May 1955 he became a member of the Foreign Liaison Staff of the Office of Naval Intelligence, Department of the Navy, Washington, DC. After serving as US Naval Attaché and Naval Attaché for Air at New Delhi, India, he returned to the Navy Department for further duty, and on February 2, 1958 was ordered to the Fifteenth Naval District, headquarters at Balboa, Canal Zone.
Captain Awtrey has the American Defense Service Medal; the American Campaign Medal; European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; the World War II Victory Medal; the Navy Occupation service medal, Europe Clasp; and the National Defense Service Medal.