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


Hiero F. Hays Jr.Heiro Field Hays, Jr ("Hi") werd geboren op 13-5-1920 in Denver Colorado USA. Hij was de jongste van 5 kinderen uit het gezin Heiro F en Ethel Roberts Hays. Het eerste kind,  Elizabeth Frances werd geboren op 9 May 1907 maar overleed op de leeftijd van 13 maanden aan buiktyfus in Denver op 16-06-1908. Het tweede kind die geboren werd op 18 mei 1909 was Creighton Evans Hays. Creighton diende in het Amerikaanse leger tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog onder generaal Omar Bradley, hij bereikte de rang van kolonel. Hij stierf in 1963 in Washington, DC en is begraven op Arlington National Cemetery . Zijn zoon, Evans Hays, overleden in 2008 is eveneens begraven in Arlington. Een dochter, Cornelia Sue Hays, is ook overleden. Het derde kind Mabel Emily, werd geboren op 17 januari 1912. Zij trouwde met William North Little (6 november 1911-12 okt. 1997) en zij hadden had drie kinderen: Betty Ann, Wilma Jean en Susan. Susan is overleden. Mabel is ook overleden; datum van overlijden onbekend. Het vierde kind was VirginiaHiero Hays Ruth, geboren op 31 augustus de 1914. Ze trouwde met James Work werk in Denver, Co en woonde een groot deel van haar leven in Estes Park, CO. Drie kinderen werden geboren : Albert Hays (geb: 08 03 1935), James Creighton (geb. 29.8.1939) en Carol Anne (geb: 26/05/1945). Virginia Ruth is overleden op 9 sep 2002 in Loveland CO en is begraven in Ft. Morgan, Colorado.
Heiro  Jr. Heiro Jr gradueerde aan de South High School in Denver in 1938 en begon zijn Ingenieur studies aan de Purdue University. Hiero nam dienst in het " Army Air Corps" in Oktober, 1940. Hij startte een opleiding tot piloot en bekwam zijn "wings" op het Stockton Field, CA in August, 1941.
Hiero werd later vlieginstructeur en gaf opleiding aan leerling-piloten
gedurend de eerste vijf weken van hun opleiding. Na de laffe aanval van de Japanners op Pearl Harbor op op 7 december 1941 vroeg Lt Hiero Hays overplaatsing naar een meer aktieve dienst. Lt Hiero Hays kreeg een opleiding tot B-24 piloot en werd later ingedeeld bij de 449th Bomb Group in het 719th Squadron. Hij werd de Sq Operation Officer van het 719th sq.
Hiero at Purdue University
Hier een klasfoto van Hiero Hays Jr. (Purdue Univ). Zijn moeder schreef op de achterkant van de foto vermoedelijk aan het begin van zijn dienst  “Goodnight Sweet Prince. May angels guard thy flight”

Op 15 december 1943, tijdens de overtocht van de USA naar Grottaglie, Italië vloog hij als gastpiloot met de Thieme crew in de "Betty Ann" toen het vliegtuig problemen kreeg door overvloedige ijsafzetting op de hoogte meter instrumenten. Tijdens deze vlucht was het erbarmelijk slecht weer en was het zicht praktish nul! Capt Hiero Hays en F/O William Thieme besloten dat iedereen het vliegtuig moest verlaten daar zij vreesden om tegen een berg in de buurt van Meknes, Marokko te pletter te vliegen. Een lid van het grond -Cadet Hiero F Hays Jr.personeel (Frederik I Ross), die zich aan boord bevond schreef het volgende:
"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.”
Op deze foto rechts staan van links naar rechts: Bill Carrithers, Jim Miller and Hiero Hays Jr.

Tijdens de evacuatie opende Capt Hiero Hays iets te vroeg zijn valscherm waardoor het gescheurd werd door de staart van de bommenwerper en Hiero naar zijn dood viel.

Capt Hiero F Hays Jr's graveVolgens de wensen van de moeder werd Captain Hays begraven op het North Africa American Cemetery, Carthago in Tunesië

Hier nog enkele passages uit getuigenissen van deze fatale 15 December 1943:

Uit het boek "Those Who Flew" door Virginia Priefert:

“BETTY ANN”; Tail #11; Serial #41-292175.
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.

Uit het boek “Grottaglie and home” geschiedenis van de 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.

Op deze foto uit 1941: James C. Work, Hiero Hays Jr., Albert H Work

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

Capt Hiero Hays tijdslijn gebaseerd op brieven van Hiero F Hays Jr.

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

Mijn dank gaat uit naar de neef en nicht van Capt Hiero Hays, Al Work en Carol Nussbaumer voor het verhaal. Ook naar Carol's echtgenoot Jim voor het scannen van de foto's. Capt Hiero Hays Jr. word nog altijd geëerd en herinnerd in zijn familie. Ook gaat mijn dank uit naar uitgeweken Ronsenaar Jan Demeulemeester, die vlakbij het kerkhof woont en foto's nam van Hiero's graf.