Staff Sergeant Octavio Huerta, U.S. Army Corps (Ret.), was honored March 5 for his service in France during World War II. The presentation took place at Atria Senior Living in Encinitas, where Huerta was given the insignia of Chevalier dans l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur by The Hon. Christophe Lemoine, Consul General of France.
During the early years of WWII, Huerta, now 95, worked at an aircraft factory and later enlisted in the military, where he learned of his acuity for targeting during a military exercise shooting with rifles.
In May 1943, he was drafted into the Army Air Corps, where he became a tail gunner flying with the 401st bomb group’s B-17s. From June to September in 1944, Octavio flew 32 missions in a B-17 bomber called “Chute The Works.”
Huerta served in bombing campaigns across Northern France, Rhineland, Air Offensive Europe and Western Europe. His decorations and citations include the EAME Ribbon, Air Medal with 3 OLC and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Huerta and his three brothers, Hector, Fausto and Carlos, all served in the military. Huerta, who was born in Los Angeles on Sept. 7, 1923, attended Polytechnic High School and lettered in basketball. He graduated in the early summer of 1942.
Shortly after the war, Huerta met the love of his life, Carmen McDonald at a dance. They married on Dec. 26, 1948. Carmen and Octavio were married for 58 years, until Carmen passed away from heart complications. Together, Octavio and Carmen have three children, nine grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Also, after his service in the military, Huerta received a degree from Art Center in Los Angeles, now located in Pasadena.
Huerta proceeded to pursue design working with Rexall, The Art Group, and then joining his brothers Hector and Carlos in starting their own company, Huerta Design. Their business was recognized and honored by Mayor Tom Bradley and the City of Los Angeles. In 1988, Octavio retired, leaving a legacy of advertising and company logos derived from his designs and creative influence. After living in Los Angeles for 92 years, Octavio moved to Encinitas in July of 2016 to be near his daughter, grandson and two great-grandchildren.