William Hays USS Arizona
Contact Info
SK3c William Henry Hays
Killed in Action - Remains Never Recovered

William Henry Hays was born Feb. 6, 1919, in Oregon County, Missouri, to M.W. Hays, then a farmer, and Gertrude Frey Hays, a homemaker.

The family moved to far southwest Kansas before 1930 and the father became a police officer and then a deputy sheriff.

The son, known as Bill, graduated from high school in 1937 in Hugoton, a town of about 1,300. He liked to swim and dance and was a reporter, at least briefly, for the school newspaper. He worked for a brother at a gas station and planned to attend college.

Instead, he enlisted in the Navy in January 1940 and attended the Great Lakes Navy Training Station in Illinois. The family’s last photo of him was taken in March when a train carrying 336 men stopped for 10 minutes in Liberal, Kansas, on its way to San Pedro, California. There,
he joined the crew of the U.S.S. Arizona. Mr. Hays was a storekeeper third class when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

The local newspaper reported his death on Dec. 26, just below a Christmas drawing that wished readers “peace on Earth.”

The Hays family sacrificed much for their country. Son Jack Hays served in the Army and was at the Battle of the Bulge on Dec. 17, 1944. Daughter Goldia’s husband, Francis Beadle, died in the battle that day. Jack Hays was wounded in both legs in April 1945 in Germany. Son George Hays spent 23 months as a Navy motor machinist’s mate and fought in battles across the Pacific, including at Gilbert, the Marshalls and Okinawa. Daughter Florence married an Army man, James “Rusty” LeVaugh, who fought in World War II and Korea, where he was killed in action in 1952. Daughter Rosemary married Robert Roche, who was a Marine during World War II.

Sources: Special thanks to great niece Cassie Yeager Cairns for help with this profile and for sharing the photograph. Other sources include the Hugoton (Kansas) Hermes; The Hutchinson (Kansas) News; the Brazosport (Texas) Facts; Census; Navy muster roll. This profile was researched and written by Bobbi Jo Buel on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.