William Kent Hayes
Bill Hayes loved bluegrass, old Westerns, Coca-Cola, playing golf, and crisp, uncirculated currency. He never entered a room quietly. He was a man of strong faith whose impassioned prayers were for his country and his family, and every day he picked fresh flowers from the garden for Kathleen, his wife of nearly 60 years.
He spent 29 years in the United States Air Force. He was an F-100 and A-7D fighter pilot, a Vietnam War veteran, and Commander of the 75th Tactical Fighter Squadron based at England AFB, LA. His later assignments took him to Saudi Arabia and to the Pentagon, and he retired as a colonel with multiple honors.
After serving his country, Bill flew for Sun Country Airlines, Minneapolis, MN, and made Captain in a little over three years. He then went into Management after seven years (while still flying). In his ninth year, he became VP of Flt Ops. and retired in February of 2002.
Bill and his family moved to Sumter, SC. He had some arrhythmia problems with his heart which a Doctor in Charleston solved with ablation.
He continued to work and taught Operations Management courses, at Shaw AFB, to students enrolled with Webster University. This lasted about two years (“I guess what goes around, comes around,” Bill says).
After another retirement Bill said, “I am now, just retired”.
He was a long-time active member of the Super Sabre Society.
William K. Hayes might have died unexpectedly on Thursday, May 28, 2020, but his character and interminable spirit will live on through those who had the privilege of knowing him — and that was a lot of people, thanks to his incredible gift of gab, the sparkle in his eye, and a personality to match.
Bill loved bluegrass, old Westerns, Coca-Cola, playing golf, and crisp, uncirculated currency. He never entered a room quietly and he would tell anyone who would listen about his kids and his aches and pains. He most certainly did not look or act like he was 81. He was a man of strong faith whose impassioned prayers were for his country and his family, and every day he picked fresh flowers from the garden for Kathleen, his wife of nearly 60 years.
Born in 1939 in Milwaukee, WI, Bill spent nearly 29 years in the United States Air Force. He was an F-100 and A-7D fighter pilot, a Vietnam War veteran, and Commander of the 75th Tactical Fighter Squadron based at England AFB, LA. His later assignments took him to Saudi Arabia and to the Pentagon, and he retired as a colonel with multiple honors, including the Defense Superior Service Medal, a Distinguished Flying Cross, a Meritorious Service Medal, an Air Medal, and an Air Force Commendation Medal.
After serving his country, Bill became a commercial airline pilot and later the vice president of operations for Sun Country Airlines. He was a long-time active member of the Super Sabre Society, an elite collection of F-100 pilots.
In addition to the love of his life, Bill is survived by his son, Adam, and his wife, Kyle; his daughter, Hannah; his sister, Karon, and her husband Alvin; as well as a whole menagerie of pets who just don’t understand why the boisterous, energetic man they adore hasn’t yet returned home.
Bill is buried at Ramsey Creek Preserve in upstate South Carolina.
- 1/1960-12/1960 Aviation Cadets (Nav), Lackland AFB/Harlingen AFB, TX
- 1961-1964 46th Air refueling Sq, K.I. Sawyer AFB, MI, (Nav, KC-135)
- 6/1964-6/1965 UPT, Vance AFB, OK, Class 65-H
- 7/1965-8/1965 Survival Tng, Stead AFB, NV
- 8/1965-3/1966 F-100 Tng, Luke AFB, AZ, Class 66-E-1 (F-100)
- 4/1966 PACAF Jungle Survival School, Clark AFB, Philippines
- 4/1966-4/1967 416th TFS, Tan Son Nhut AB/Bien Hoa AB, RVN, (Bean-Flt Lead, F-100)
- 5/1967-10/1970 4510th CCTW, Luke, AFB (17th, 14th, 17th Sqs), (Inst/Gun IP)
- 1/1970-7/1970 Bootstrap, UNO, NB
- 11/1970-4/1971 68th TFS, England AFB, LA(Asst Ops/Flt CC) (F-100)
- 5/1971-7/1971 A-7D Tng, Luke AFB, AZ,
- 8/1971-1/1973 354th TFS, D-M AFB, AZ, (Flt CC) (A-7)
- 1/1973-7/1973 355th TFW, DM AFB, AZ (Wg Current Ops) (A-7)
- 7/1973-8/1973 A-7D SAR Tng, England AFB, LA (A-7D)
- 8/1973-8/1974 3rd TFS, Korat AB, /Thailand, (Flt CC) (A-7)
- 8/1974-4/1981 23rd TFW, England AFB, LA (A-7)
- 8/1974-5/1975 75th TFS, (Sq Tng Off) England AFB, LA (A-7)
- 5/1975-6/1977 23d Wg, Chief, Stan/Eval, England AFB, LA (A-7)
- 6/1977-5/1979 74th TFS, (Sq Ops Off), England AFB, LA (A-7)
- 6/1979-1/1981 75th TFS, (Sq CC), England AFB, LA (A-7) – Wg Asst Dep CC for Operations
- 4/1981-4/1983 HQ 9th AF, Shaw AFB, SC, Dir. Stan/Eval
- 4/1983-3/984 507th TacAir Cont Wg, Shaw AFB, SC, (DO, Air)
- 3/1984-7/1985 Defense Intelligence Agency, Wash, DC, (Student)
- 7/1985-7/1987 U.S. Embassy, Riyadh, S.A., (Air Attaché)
- 8/1987-4/1989 DIA, Wash, DC, (Dep IG) (Army 3-star offered me IG position but opted to end the career instead)
Awards & Decorations
Defense Superior Service Medal
Distinguished Flying Cross
Meritorious Service Medal
Air Force Commendation Medal
Military & Civilian Education
- Through ICAF (all correspondence)
- B.G.S. Business, University of Nebraska at Omaha, 1970 (Bootstrap)
- M.A. Management, Webster College, St. Louis, MO., 1977