PROFILE OF A MUSEUM VOLUNTEER
Bob Hayes was born March 21, 1925 to Fred and Lillie Hayes in Urbana, IL. He has three siblings, Wilson, Ruth and Joanna. Bob attended elementary school in Rantoul, and graduated from Paxton High School where his father was principal.
Bob was recruited for the U S Navy flight program while still in high school. Naturally talented in math and passionate about aerodynamics, he joined in 1942, beginning what was to be a 26 year career.
Assigned to a fighter squadron in the Philippines, Bob was being prepared for the invasion of Japan. He remembers looking out as far as the eye could see on war ships readying to invade the island of Kyushu when the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He had very mixed feelings as a young officer of 20, and very anxious to show his stuff by fighting for his country; BUT, thousands of Japanese and American lives were saved by those bombs. It was estimated that 170,000 Japanese were killed in comparison to 90% of their population, and one of every two Americans would have lost their lives.
During the Korean War, Bob recalls enjoying his junior-position work on General Douglas MacArthur’s intelligence staff during the Inchon invasion. He delivered top secret operation orders to every command involved; traveling by train through all five Japanese Islands. He always had a top bunk with two seabags full of orders loosely clipped to both sides. Had he lost one of those, he would probably still be in the brig.
Bob has four children; Judy, Brandon, Heather and Robyn, who have given him four grandchildren; Miles, Brandalyn, Skyler and Lisa
Now living in Fresno with his wife Diane, Bob spends his time playing golf, traveling, and volunteering Wednesdays at the Veterans Memorial Museum, “Home of the Legion of Valor”. He enjoys the camaraderie of the other docents and in the sharing of memories.