Thomas Michael ‘Tom’ Hayes was born in Providence Hospital, Washington, DC, on Mar 8, 1946, the first of four boys and one girl born to John (Jack) Joseph Hayes of Chicago and Mary Rambler Hayes of New Jersey. During WWII, Jack had served in North Africa, followed by a special operations assignment with the Free French Forces. Eleven months later Tom’s brother Jim was born at the same hospital.
The boys grew up as Army brats as their father pursued a military career. Tom completed high school at Edgewood, MD, graduating in 1964 as valedictorian and class president after which he entered VMI. In 1965, Jim followed him, but then Tom received an appointment to West Point with the Class of 1969. Jim again followed and matriculated with the Class of 1970.
As a West Point plebe, Tom broke the cross country course record, briefly held the record for the obstacle course, and was a member of the Triathlon Team. As a firstie Tom served as the B-4 first detail company commander. Commissioned in the Infantry, Tom completed Airborne School, Ranger School, and IOBC before being assigned to the 2/509th Airborne Infantry, 8th Infantry Division in Mainz, Germany, where he served as the battalion Recon Platoon Leader.
Deployed to Vietnam in February 1971, he was assigned as the 8th Cavalry Blues Platoon Leader, a brigade first strike unit in the American Division. He then became the Commander, Company D, 1/46th Infantry. During a patrol with his company in 1972, his lead scout hit a land mine; Tom was the second man behind him and was wounded in the main blast. He was hospitalized in Japan and had shrapnel in his body for the remainder of his life.
In 1973 Tom attended Aviation Flight School at Ft. Walters and Ft. Rucker (his father, a Major General, was commencement speaker). In the summer of 1973 Tom met Lana Robertson while attending the Infantry Advanced Course. Lana’s father had been a Marine during the Battle of Iwo Jima in WWII. The relationship flourished while Tom was at Ft. Benning serving as an aviation platoon leader and S3 for the 2nd Aviation Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division in Korea. Upon returning Lana and Tom were married at Ft. Benning in March 1975.
The newlyweds proceeded to the 101st Aviation Group at Ft. Campbell, KY. From 1975-78, Tom served as the Commander of the 163rd Aviation Company, as S3 for a division aviation support battalion, and as the aviation flight liaison officer to Colin Powell, who mentioned Tom in his autobiography, My American Journey.
Lana and Tom moved to HQ, DARCOM, in Alexandria, VA, where Tom served on the Secretary General Staff from 1978-81 while also earning a master’s from USC. In August 1980, Patrick Michael Hayes was born at Walter Reed Army Medical Center; this auspicious occasion involved Tom totaling his car and arriving at the hospital in a police car for the delivery of his son. Of all his achievements, Tom remained proudest of his son, and of all his titles, he was proudest of “Dad.”
Moving to Ft. Leavenworth, KS, in 1982 for CGSC, the family returned to Ft. Campbell where Tom was XO of the 158th Aviation Battalion, Aviation Company Commander, the Aviation Group S3, and the Assistant Division Aviation Officer.
Tom was promoted to lieutenant colonel and became Commander of the 1/4th Attack Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, Ft. Carson, CO, from 1987-89. During 1990, while Tom was assigned to the Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, ballroom dancing in the Hayes’ kitchen became a regular activity. As the Senior Aviation Training Controller at NTC in 1991, Tom was instrumental in developing attack helicopters as a maneuver element; a concept first used during the Gulf War.
Promoted to colonel, Tom became Commander, 12th Aviation Brigade, Wiesbaden, Germany, in support of V Corps, USAREUR, from 1992-94. The Army selected Tom's brigade for the Outstanding Aviation Unit of the Year Award. The family left Europe for Atlanta where Tom served as the Aviation Division Chief, HQ, FORSCOM, from 1994-97. Tom served as Chief, Military Liaison Team, Prague, for a year before returning to FORSCOM as the Aviation Chief for 1998-99, where he retired after 30 years service.
The family moved to Mesa, AZ, where Tom began work with Inter-Coastal Electronics, Inc., as the marketing chief for new business development in Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East. Tom served as an usher at his church, started a Boy Scout program, joined a Bible study group, became a team leader for Habitat for Humanity, and renewed his love for fishing, golf, and shooting. Tom was especially proud of participating in a mission trip in May 2004 to Ternopil, Ukraine, where he and Lana shared the love of Christ with students while working in a computer lab for students learning English and Computer Technology.
Tom struggled with cancer from spring 2007 until his death in 2009. Tom was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery on Aug 28, 2009. He is survived by Lana; Patrick; his mother, Mary; and his four siblings; Jim, Sharon, David, and John.
- MG (R) and Mrs. Robert J. St. Onge '69