Howitzer added to Hayes Memorial

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 31, 2004

WINDSOR TOWNSHIP - Sgt. Danny C. Hayes never considered himself a hero.

His sister Kay and his peers in the Windsor High School Class of 1961 could not disagree more.

Danny Hayes was killed in Vietnam on Sept. 26, 1968, but his legacy lives on in a memorial in his name located along the winding, rural State Route 217, which has also been named in Hayes' memory.

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"He was a war hero and he was certainly my hero," Kay said solemnly by telephone Sunday.

Sitting atop a hill in the green, county landscape of Dobbston, the memorial that honors a total of 15 soldiers was made possible by the Class of 1961. It was dedicated two years ago but received a massive addition last week in a 105 mm towed Howitzer gun.

The green and black gun, named "Fireball,"

was used in Vietnam. It received a fresh coat of paint and has been demilitarized. It now sits as a monument to Hayes' and

the other soldiers.

Honors are nothing new for Hayes, the only soldier from Windsor High School to be killed in Vietnam. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Army Commendation Medal. But Kay Hayes and Danny's classmates, still remember the happy, fun loving kid who got along with everyone.

"Danny would think it was too much credit," Kay said of the latest addition to the memorial. "He would have said he was only doing what was expected, that he was only doing his duty."

But Hayes went far beyond the call of duty. The inscription on the back of the memorial says it all: "Sgt. Hayes distinguished himself by exceptional valorous actions."

It goes on to describe how Hayes, who was already seriously wounded, established covering fire while each and every one of his men got to safety. Only after they were safe, did he then move towards cover but was fatally wounded.

Though she lives nearly 30 miles away, Kay still visits the memorial at least once a month to pay her respects to her fallen brother.

"The family is very proud of it," she said. "I think the community as a whole is very proud of it, too."

Classmate James Tagg spearheaded the drive to create the memorial and to add the Howitzer. The 30-year Air Force veteran who has since moved to Florida worked for a couple of years to make the dream a reality.

"It feels like our class has given something to the community of people who have sacrificed everything for their country," Tagg said. "We have gotten a lot of compliments from people who said hey are happy to have a memorial in that rural area."

Tagg and Kay Hayes wanted to thank many of the people who made the memorial possible including Billy and Rick Barbour, Judy and Jack Thornton, Jerry Hayes, Evan Wall, Jimmy and Joanne Whitehead, Mike Finley, Superior Construction Co. Specialist, Tommy Brooks, West Virginia National Guard at Point Pleasant and Pickett's Concrete.

Each year, the class of 1961 also gives a $1,000 Sergeant Danny C. Hayes Memorial Scholarship. Symmes Valley student Kayla Bowman was the recipient this year.

Anyone who would like to donate to the scholarship fund can send a contribution to: The Sergeant Danny C. Hayes memorial Fund, National City Bank, Chesapeake Shopping Plaza #9, Chesapeake, OH 45619.