b. 27/09/1892 Chefoo, China. d. 07/08/1978 Pinehurst, North Carolina.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 14-15/07/1918 Greves Farm, France.
Hays was born on September 27, 1892, in China, where his parents worked as Presbyterian missionaries. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1917, and by July 14, 1918, was a first lieutenant serving in France with the 10th Field Artillery, 3rd Division. On that day, during the Second Battle of the Marne near Greves Farm, his unit came under a heavy German artillery barrage and the communication lines were destroyed. Despite the intense fire, Hays rode on horseback between his unit, the command post, and two French batteries for the rest of that day and the next. Although he was severely wounded and had seven horses shot out from under him, his efforts contributed to the halt of the German advance. For these actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor the next year, in 1919.
He commanded the 99th Field Artillery (Pack) from 1940 to 1941; among his subordinates was Captain William Orlando Darby, who went on to found the U.S. Army Rangers. After the United States' entry into World War II, Hays participated in the Battle of Monte Cassino in early 1944. He commanded the 2nd Infantry Division's artillery on Omaha Beach during the invasion of Normandy in June of that year.
In late November 1944, after returning to the U.S., Hays took over the 10th Mountain Division when its commander, Lloyd E. Jones, fell ill. After training, the division arrived in Italy in January and fought throughout the spring offensive. On April 24, 1945, William Darby was assigned to the division as Hays' assistant commander; he was killed in action six days later. After the end of the war in Europe, Hays became High Commissioner for the US Occupation Zone in Germany from 1949, and was placed in charge of the occupation forces in Austria from 1952. He retired from the military in 1953, having reached the rank of lieutenant general.
BURIAL LOCATION: ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA.
Section 11 Site 540-2