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September 12, 2008

This story is from Ronald Hays
Harold V. Hayes at the age of 86 recently passed away at his home in Redding, California. Hayes was born in Oroville, and attended local schools graduating from Oroville Union High School, where he played basketball in 1939. Following the out break of World war II he was inducted into the Army in October of 1942. Hayes completed basic training at Camp Callen near San Diego, California. Following basic training he was assigned to an anti aircraft training cadre at a camp in the Mojave Desert. In 1944 as a Sergeant Technician he was reassigned to Headquarters Company of the 548th Anti Aircraft Artillery, Automatic Attached Weapons Battalion. The battalion arrived at La Harve, France aboard the converted luxury liner, Queen Mary in October of 1944. The battalion was attached to and became an organizational unit of the 102, “Ozark” Infantry Division. The battalion’s mission was to destroy German Planes that were bombing and strafing the foot soldiers. As part of the Ninth Army Corp the 102 advanced through the Netherlands and into Germany. The Division led the advance across the Roar River and ended the war at the Elbe River some fifty miles from Berlin. At the Elbe River division soldiers met up with Russian Troops who were advancing on Berlin. The following is from the division’s recorded history, “The Luftwaffe opened 1945 with a flourish. New Year’s morning, clear and cloudless, saw FW 190s Me 109 and JU 88s strafing our roads and bombing rear areas. The 548th AAA AW Battalion actually enjoyed a field day. They knocked down five FW 190s and one JU 88”. Hayes was credited with shooting down one of those planes, while manning a dual fifty caliber machine gun that was mounted on a truck.
(To be Continued)
Stu’s Notes: The following is what Joan Lee, whose brother PFC. Thomas Van Campen, is missing in Vietnam, read in 2003 at one of our first ceremonies.

By the President of the United States of America, Ronald Reagan.
“We accept and remember our obligation to these missing servicemen. Until the POW/MIA issue is resolved, it will remain a matter of the highest national priority. On July 20, 1984, the POW/MIA Flag will fly over the White House, the Departments of State and Defense, and the Veterans’ Administration as a symbol of our unswerving commitment to achieve the fullest possible accounting for the servicemen and civilians. By Senate Joint Resolution 171, the Congress has designated July 20, 1984, as “National POW/MIA Recognition Day.” On this day, I firmly believe that we should recognize the special debt all Americans owe to our fellow citizens who gave up their freedom in the service of our country and to the families who have undergone a great travail. NOW THEREFORE, I, RONALD REAGAN President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Friday, July 20, 1984, as National POW/MIA Recognition Day. I call on all Americans to join in honoring all former American prisoners of war those still missing, and their families who endured the uncommon sacrifices on behalf of this country. I also call upon State and local officials and private organizations to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities. In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this 9th day of May, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the Two hundred and eight.”
Signed, Ronald Reagan.

(I’m not sure why the date changed but it is now the 3 Friday in September)

This will be the 6th year we have done the POW/MIA honoring ceremony. Our committee member Chaplin Ted Grainger emceed the first four. He has been seriously ill for the last eighteen months and passed away last Friday, September 5th. A short while ago he told me he needed another operation and hoped to emcee our upcoming event Sept. 19th. I saw Ted 5 days before he passed away and as he could not talk he gave me several thumbs up as I spoke about the progress of our Memorial Park. That’s my last memory of Ted, Thumbs up. He was with us from the very start, over 7 years ago. He and I spoke to almost every club in Oroville, some twice. Six members have now passed away, I say let’s just raise some money and finish our beautiful “on paper” Memorial. We’ve never had over 100 people at the POW/MIA Recognition Ceremony. Lets fill the street this year, as it will be closed. Except for the Boss Customers. Please come September 19, at 7PM on the steps of Our beautiful Veterans Memorial Hall with it’s new Flag Pole, Thank you Butte County Supervisors. Next week I will write a little about Oroville’s Hero, Harold V. Hayes.