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Capt Hiero F. Hays Jr. (Hi) Born 05/13/1920 - KIA 12/15/1943.

 

Hiero F. Hays Jr.Heiro  Field Hays, Jr.(“Hi”) was born May 13, 1920 in Denver Colorado U.S.A. He was the youngest of 5 children born to Heiro F and Ethel Roberts Hays. The first,  Elizabeth Frances was born 9 May 1907 and died at age 13 months of typhoid fever in Denver on June 13, 1908. The second-born was Creighton Evans Hays, born 18 May 1909.  Creighton served with the U.S. Army during World War II under General Omar Bradley, attaining the rank of Colonel.  He died in 1963 in Washington, D.C. and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. His son, Evans Hays, died in about 2008. A daughter, Cornelia Sue Hays, is also deceased. Third-born was Mabel Emily on 17 January 1912.  She married William North Little (6 Nov 1911 – 12 Oct 1997) and had three children: Betty Ann, Wilma Jean and Susan.Hiero Hays  Susan is deceased. Mabel is deceased; date of death unknown. The fourth child was Virginia Ruth, born 31 Aug 1914.  She married James Given Work in Denver, Co and lived much of her life in Estes Park, CO. Three children were born to the Works in Denver: Albert Hays(b. 8 March 1935),James Creighton (b. 29 Aug 1939) and Carol Anne (b. 26 May 1945). Virginia died on Sept. 9, 2002 in Loveland CO and is buried in Ft. Morgan, Colorado.
Heiro  Jr. graduated from South High School in Denver in 1938 and attended Purdue University, studying engineering. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in October, 1940, earning his wings at Stockton Field, CA in August, 1941. His sister Virginia wrote years later: “After his training period he was assigned to West Point as an instructor. He instructed cadets in their first five weeks in the air. Patriotic fever ran high, and Hi felt he wanted more active duty. He requested transfer to a bomber unit and after more training he became a bomber pilot. “
Hiero at Purdue University 
Hiero Hays Jr. College picture (Purdue Univ). His mother wrote the verse on this picture, I presume when Hi joined the Air Force.  “Goodnight Sweet Prince. May angels guard thy flight”

Hi was assigned to the 719th Squadron, 449th Bomber Group, Heavy as an operations officer. On December 15, 1943,he was en route from the United States to his assignment in Africa when the plane he was in (the Betty Ann) encountered bad weather with severe icing conditions near Meknes, North Africa. (see  Virginia Priefert Those Who Flew ) A member of the ground crew (Frederick I Ross) who was on board wrote the following:“While flying in the storm, the pitot tube froze over and we lost our pressure instruments. We could not tell our altitude and didn’t know whether or not we were over mountains.  I guess it was the right decision to bail out. Although while coming down I broke through the clouds and saw the plane explode.  There were no mountains in the area.”
Accounts vary, but the preponderance indicate Hi was not flying the plane but was riding along as a passenger. Thirteen men bailed out successfully. Captain Hays was killed Cadet Hiero F Hays Jr.Capt Hiero F Hays Jr's graveduring the bail-out. Diary accounts from others on the plane indicate his ‘chute may have failed to open or it may have opened too early, hit the tail of the aircraft and sustained major tears. The same diary accounts also state that the weather was clear a short distance below flying altitude and there were no mountains in sight.  (See Frederick I. Ross diary)
In keeping with his mother’s wishes, Captain Hays was buried in the North Africa American Cemetery, Carthage, Tunisia, Africa.

On the photo on the right stand from left to right: Bill Carrithers, Jim Miller and Hiero Hays Jr.

On March 25, 2019, I received the following email from Jim and Carol Nussbaumer with a beautiful photo of Hiero:

Philippe

You may remember I am the husband of the Capt. Hiero F Hays niece.  We recently had some Hiero HaysInteresting developments regarding Hiero Hays.  A reporter from a local (Denver) TV station called us and then came and interviewed us regarding Hiero.  He had been in north Africa on a different story and found that Hiero was buried there and had come from Denver.  When he got home, he searched the WEB and found your website regarding Hiero.  From that he found us and called for an interview.  He is gathering information for a story they will broadcast on Memorial Day this year about WWII veterans.
In the process of preparing for talking to him, I discovered a photo I am not sure I had sent to you originally of Hiero.  I am sending that now – it is a good shot of him in uniform.

Thank you and keep up the good work.

Jim Nussbaumer

 

From books.google.com I found a book "Those Who Flew" by Virginia Priefert. With this:

“BETTY ANN”; Tail #11; Serial #41-29215.
Delivered to Bruning 20, Oct ’43, assigned to Thieme’s crew. It was originally called “Battlin’ Betty Ann” after the pilot’s wife, Mrs. Betty Ann Thieme. Demise: One of the three 719th ships lost during the overseas movement in December 1943. Ship encountered Lt Hiero F Hays Jr.severe icing conditions over west Africa. Crew was forced to bail out on 15 Dec. ’43. Thirteen bailed out successfully.  1 KIA when chute failed to open. Circumstances of Loss: The Group began movement overseas on 16 November 1943. The individual airplanes of the air echelon headed for Italy by a route which took them to Florida, thence to Puerto Rico, Trinadad and Brazil. The Atlantic crossing was made between Brazil and Dakar, Africa. From Dakar, the Group flew north to Morocco,thence east to Tunisia, and finally north across the Mediterranean Sea to southern Italy. In North Africa, they had to negotiate a flight through the Atlas Mountain Range. By the first week in December, the individual aircraft formed a long, unending chain stretching from Topeka to North Africa. Such a massive movement of men and equipment was certain to produce mishaps. Near Meknes, North Africa, ship #11 encountered severe icing conditions forcing the crew to bail out. All bailed out successfully except Captain Hiero Hays whose parachute failed to open.

From the Book “Grottaglie and home” a history of the 449th bomb group 47th wing …

719th Crew Bails Out Over North Africa, Hays Killed
(Historian’s note: 1st Lt. Hiero Hays, operations officer for the 719th was to die in a Lt Hiero and his cousins in 1941crash in North Africa when he hit the vertical stabilizer of his aircraft while bailing out. Survivors of the aircraft which included members of William Thieme’s crew all landed by parachute on a cold December day, 1943. Some were injured. It was another devastating blow to the 719th, which only a week earlier had lost Captain Councill and fourteen officers and lead enlisted men in a crash in the Atlas Mountains.

On the photo: James C. Work, Hiero Hays Jr., Albert H Work  - 1941 

Frederick I. Ross relates his story on the day that we lost our second B-24.)
On our trip from Florida (Morrison Field) to South America (somewhere between West Palm Beach and South America) a gas line parted on what I remember was No. 3 engine. A cloud of white steam poured out behind the airplane. I was asleep in the luggage rack in the bomb bay at the time. I was awakened and quickly shut off the gas line when I found out what the problem was. Why didn’t the plane blow up?
We flew to Belem, Brazil and then to Dakar, Africa. After a couple of days in Dakar, we heard that Captain Councill was missing. We took off again.
We then took off (for Chateau d’Un, advanced 449th base in North Africa). Again I was asleep in the luggage racks. I didn’t sleep all the time.
A warrant officer nudged me in the bomb bay. Before I knew what was going on, I had a parachute on and was being pushed through the hole in the floor back by the waist gunner’s station. They told me to count to 10 and then pull the rip cord. I think I got to three.  That’s one way of learning how to use a parachute.
I landed on a fence and fell and injured the back of my head. Somehow I cut my tounge wide open. The natives picked me up and took me to a farm house. They fed me fried eggs, potatoes and wine. I couldn’t eat much. The army picked me up and then took me to Marrakesh. I stayed there a couple of days and then went by truck to Casablanca.  Marrakesh was cold. I damn near froze to death there.
We also had on board a B-17 pilot. I guess he was glad to get back to B-17’s after what he went through!
The flight engineer broke his leg in the jump and was sent back to the states. While flying in the storm, the pitot tube froze over and we lost our pressure instruments.
We could not tell our altitude and didn’t know whether or not we were over mountains.  I guess it was the right decision to bail out. Although while coming down I broke through the clouds and saw the plane explode. There were no mountains in the area.
I flew by C-47 from Casablanca to Tunis and then to Grottaglie.  On the way over we flew over a convou and I had a lesson in what it’s like to fly through flak.
I was a member of the ground crew so I never flew missions although I did fly practice missions. Asgain after we lost ‘Sleepy Time Gal’ I was given a Model D plane from Africa to fix up. We removed the tail turret and other armament. It could have been ‘Doodle Bug’. 
This put the plane out of trim. We found this out on the first test flight. When coming in for a landing the nose wouldn’t come up. Both the pilot and co-pilot put their feet on the instrument panel. Still the plane wouldn’t respond. I made my way to the tail of the plane as fast as I could. I got there just in time for a very hard landing. But as the saying goes,‘any landing you can walk away from is a good landing’.
Pretty mild stuff compare to the guys that flew missions. It took a lot of guts to climb in that plane morning after morning. I’m sure you know what I mean.

Fredrick I Ross, 719 Ground Crew
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Capt Hiero Hays provisory service timeline based on correspondence forwarded to Hiero.



Nov 29 & 30, 1940 – Air Corp Tech School, Ryan School of Aeronatics, Lindberg Field, San Diego, Calif
Mar 12  & Apr 30, 1941 – Army Air Corps Basic Flying School, Moffett Field, California
May 3, 1941 – Stockton Air Base, Stockton, Calif.

With special thanks to Capt Hiero Hays' nephew and niece, Al Work and Carol Nussbaumer for the story. And also Carol's husband Jim who did all the scannings of the photos. Capt Hiero Hays Jr. is still remembered in the family. Also special thanks to Mr. Jan Demeulemeester who live near the Cemetery for taking the photos of Hiero's grave.