Retired pilot continues to serve as a volunteer at MacDill
by Capt. Rebecca Coyle
Retired Lt. Col. George Hays began his military career at age 18 after completing his freshman year at the University of Alabama. Wanting to help our European allies in the war effort against Hitler and having a lifetime interest in flying, he joined the Canadian Air Force in 1940 for flight training. After a year he transferred to England's Royal Air Force and flew Spitfires.
After the U.S. declared war, Colonel Hays transferred to the U.S. Army's 8th Air Force as a second lieutenant to assist with the Air Offensive Europe campaign. Through October 1944 he flew P-47s on escort missions to protect bombers conducting air raids over Europe.
After completing his combat tour he returned to the U.S. as a captain where he instructed combat flight to P-47 pilots in route to Europe. These pilots were graduates of military flying programs in Louisiana and Texas.
In January 1945 he separated from the military and went back to the University of Alabama, graduating in 1950 with a bachelor of science in civil engineering.
Colonel Hays was recalled to active duty as a captain in 1951 to help with the Korean War.
There he flew RF-80s and RF-86s on reconnaissance missions for approximately one year. In 1952 he was assigned to Patrick Air Force Base, home of the USAF Missile Test Center. His unit flew chase planes with the Northrop Snark, Martin Matador and the Boeing Bomarc in test flights. He was promoted to major in 1954.
In 1962 he was assigned the position of Air Advisor to the South Vietnamese Army for piloting L19s. In 1963 he was assigned to the Tactical Air Command headquarters where he served until retirement in 1968.
Colonel Hays' decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters and the Air Medal with seven oak leaf clusters.
Colonel Hays and his wife, Alberta, have been married since October 1951 and have volunteered at MacDill pharmacies since 1986. They currently volunteer weekly at the PharmaCARE center.