Hayes presented with Quilt of Valor

World War II veteran Alvin Hayes was awarded a Quilt of Valor on Thursday, May 23, in recognition of his 14 months of service in the U.S. Navy.
The Quilt of Valor program was first started by Catherine Roberts in 2003 after her son was deployed to Iraq. A total of 382,765 have been given with 113 being awarded by the local Quilt of Valor organization. Hayes is the most recent recipient of a quilt, which weaves together the complex story of his time at war.
Throughout his speech at the ceremony, Hayes discussed that since he was in a secret division of the Navy, he was not allowed to tell even his closest relatives – including his wife and children – what his duties really were.
“They never did know,” he said. “We were in a secret division … I don’t think there were 50 people on that ship that knew that we left that ship every night.”
Starting from the beginning, when Hayes turned 6, he and his family relocated to a farm northwest of Malvern. He attended Pleasant Grove country school until he moved southeast in sixth grade. For the remainder of his education, Hayes attended Strahan School until his graduation in May of 1944.
Prior to his graduation, Hayes enlisted in the U.S. Navy at age 17. Immediately following, he left home for boot camp for Naval Service Training Command training in Great Lakes, Ill.
After undergoing six weeks of intense physical training, Hayes was one of the 24 graduates who was sent to Little Creek, Va. for “small boat” training. Shortly after their departure, the 24 learned this training was part of a force called “Scouts and Raiders,” which served as the forerunner of today’s Navy Seals.
Unaware of their next destination, the 24 selectees boarded a train to Jacksonville, Fla. After a seemingly endless journey through “brushy” country, the group reached the termination point, which is where the group exited the train and hiked a half mile to their next mode of transportation: a “cattle truck.”
Later, the group arrived at an island near Fort Pierce, Fla. where they were directed to their “luxurious accommodations,” which were tents near the edge of the water that were often soaked by morning.
Later on, Hayes and the other Selectees were met with a six week training period involving the Higgins Boat. Training was held 20 hours per day and consisted of a 10 mile run, intense physical training, classroom training and first aid practice. Above all, “attitude adjustment” was considered to be the most important element of training.
Once the selectees completed this extra six weeks of training, they headed north to Providence, R.I. where they first became acquainted with the USS Dauphin (APA-97).
 Known as the “Mother Ship” of 33 Higgins Boats, it initially took 13 hours for the crew to load and unload the ship. However, with practice, the group was able to get the entire job done in no more than 35 minutes.
Following yet more training, the crew passed through the Panama Canal toward Pearl Harbor. Aboard the USS Dauphin, Hayes was assigned a  gun with a projectile weighing 105 pounds alone. It took 15 men to operate, meaning Hayes continued to work closely with the original crew.
From Pearl Harbor, the crew headed toward New Guinea, which was partially occupied by Japanese troops. This meant confrontation was imminent, but as a Navy Scout, Hayes continued forth.
As a Scout, Hayes had determination, notable endurance and an exceptional memory. On missions, Scouts were not allowed to speak or leave behind written records. Instead, they had to give verbal reports, remember complex measurements and thoroughly – yet quietly – examine their surroundings.
As noted by many of the soldiers, perhaps the most important goal of the invasions was simply “don’t get caught,” requiring that they move in a stealthy manner.
Though there were likely many, Hayes said his most frightening moment at war occurred during a late-night mission. While moving through heavy under-growth with three other Scouts, someone put a hand on his shoulder. Upon turning around, he was met with a chilling realization: that someone wasn’t a team member.
Though he was instantly startled by the unfamiliar face, Hayes’ nerves were soon calmed as he realized it was a friendly Philippine chief known as the “Radio Talker.” The chief presented Hayes with a large ring, which he said remains a prize possession to this day.
Through the entirety of his time in battle, Hayes – the engineer of a first-wave Higgins Boat – served with the same four-man crew, which also consisted of steering, a flag waver and a gunner. The group served in seven major invasion missions together.
Shortly after the Okinawa invasion campaign, the crew was scheduled to invade Tokyo. However, right before the invasion, the U.S. sent the Enola Gay to drop the first atomic bomb released by the nation.
After a final agreement was reached, the occupation of Tokyo continued. Fourth in line behind the USS Missouri, the USS Dauphin, Hayes’ ship, moved through and was recognized as an elite ship.
Once the surrender ceremony concluded, General Douglas MacArthur ordered all flags in Tokyo Bay to be taken down. Every Scout was given permission to keep one.
Following the conclusion of WWII, Hayes left the military on May 23, 1946, and resumed his life as an ordinary civilian. During this time, he worked for his father on the family farm near Malvern.
During his “winding down” period, there were times when Hayes considered returning to the Navy. However, while he was in downtown Omaha one evening with his friends, he was met with a reason to stay: a pretty lady with red hair, who he considered to be his “love-at-first-sight.”
“There’s so many things I can tell you,” Hayes said upon receiving the quilt. “First thing is, for 65 years, I couldn’t even repeat it to anybody. Not a soul. And I remember it today like it was yesterday for me.”

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