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Old 31st July 2008, 14:55
Tony Kambic Tony Kambic is offline
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Obituary on Thomas Hayes in Washington DC paper

Thomas Lloyd Hayes, 91, a retired Air Force brigadier general who won designation as an ace pilot in Europe and the Pacific during World War II, died of complications from Alzheimer's disease July 24 at Reston Hospital Center. A former Annandale resident, he had lived in Potomac Falls for the past 10 years.
The requirement for an ace is five or more documented aerial victories. Gen. Hayes was credited with the destruction of 8 1/2 German and two Japanese aircraft. He flew 485 hours in 143 combat missions.
He was in the South Pacific for most of 1942, based at a converted sugar mill in Java, where his orders were to "interfere" with the Japanese push toward Australia. He was shot down by a Japanese Zero fighter over Bali.
He later went to England as a squadron commander and, on March 6, 1944, led one of the first successful daylight raids and long-range attacks on Berlin. Twenty enemy aircraft were destroyed during the raid, and all the planes of the 357th Fighter Group returned safely.
Gen. Hayes was the deputy commanding officer of the 375th Fighter Group -- known as "the Yoxford Boys" after a nearby village of that name -- which was credited with the highest kill ratio for the U.S. Army Air Forces in Europe.
The 357th produced 42 aces and had more victories against German jets than any other unit.
Gen. Hayes also flew the only P-51D that participated in the Normandy invasion, flying two missions on D-Day. The P-51D, the first fighter aircraft with sufficient range to make the round trip from England to targets deep inside Germany, was his favorite plane.

He won the Silver Star for destroying two Japanese Zeros and three Distinguished Flying Crosses, and was awarded a Purple Heart.

He originally wanted to be a Navy flier because he came from a family of seafarers, but when he attempted to enlist in a Navy flight program, he was told he had to have a college degree.
He enrolled at what is now Oregon State University and two years later learned at an air show that the Army Air Corps required only two years of college. He dropped out of school and enlisted immediately.


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