Thomas Lloyd Hayes, Jr. was born in Portland, Oregon on March 31, 1917. He attended Oregon State University from 1937 through 1940, after which, he entered pilot training in the Army Air Corps. He graduated at Kelly Field, Texas on February 7, 1941 and subsequently was assigned to the 35th Pursuit Group at Hamilton Field, California. In December, 1941, soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the men of the 35th, flying the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, were sent to Java to assist in the defense of Indonesia. Hayes was hospitalized after being shot down on a mission to Bali, after which the unit was re-equipped with Bell P-39 Aircobra and transferred to New Guinea. Hayes remained in the South Pacific until October, 1942, and is credited with destroying two Japanese aircraft (the dates and types do not seem to be listed) before he returned to the United States. Promoted to captain, Hayes served from December, 1942 through May, 1943 training new pilots at Hamilton Field, after which he was assigned as commander of the newly-activated 364th Fighter Squadron. Flying the North American P-51 Mustang, the unit was transferred to England in August, 1943. Hayes scored his first aerial victory in the European Theater on March 2, 1944 when he destroyed a Messerschmitt Bf-109 on a mission to Frankfurt. He shot down another Bf-109 east of Ulzen on March 6th, and two days later destroyed a Messerschmitt Me-410 Hornet 100 miles west of Berlin. Hayes shot down a Messerschmitt Bf-110 Zerstörer near Stuttgart on March 16th, a Bf-109 on April 19th south of Kassel, and another Bf-109 on April 28th northwest of Magdeburg. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel on April 30, 1944 and moved up to group headquarters staff. Hayes led a mission to Leipzig on June 29, 1944, during which he shot down a Bf-109 and shared in the destruction of his second Me-410. His final aerial victory, another Bf-109, occurred on July 14, 1944 on a Ramrod (escort) mission to Paris, after which he returned to the United States. One source states that Hayes recorded 485 flying hours in 143 missions during World War II. He remained in the military after the war, serving in numerous command and headquarters positions. Hayes retired in January, 1970 with the rank of brigadier general, having served his country faithfully for 30 years. One source states that Thomas L. Hayes died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease on July 24, 2008, though his headstone at Arlington National Cemetery indicates he died on July 25, 2008. Hayes was credited with the confirmed destruction of 8½ German and 2 Japanese aircraft during the war, as well as one listed as probable. He was awarded the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Purple Heart, and the Air Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters, as well as the Croix de Guerre with Gold Star and the Croix de Guerre with Palm, both awarded by the French Republic.
Note: Thomas L. Hayes flew a P-51 Mustang nicknamed “Frenesi”, a popular song of the era.
We are pleased to offer a philatelic first day cover commemorating the 50th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s solo Trans-Atlantic flight. The cover features a ¾ facing view of Lindbergh wearing his flying helmet, with “ROOSEVELT FIELD, L. I.” and “LE BOURGET AIRFIELD” separated by a facsimile of his signature, all executed in a bright blue ink, in the lower left corner. An embossed seal depicting the “Spirit of St. Louis” appears at left center, with a 13¢ postage stamp featuring the same aircraft affixed in the upper right corner. Between the embossed seal and the stamp is a circular, black ink postal cancellation reading “ROOSEVELT FIELD STA. NY 11530” in a circle, with “MAY 20 1977” in three lines at the center. Four lines appear to the right of the cancellation, also in black, with “FIRST DAY OF ISSUE” between the two lines at the center. Immediately below this, in the lower right corner, is the signature of “Thomas L Hayes” and his rank “Brig Gen USAF”, boldly penned in dark black ink. The back bears no written or printed material, though the reverse image of the embossed seal is very pronounced. The cover measures approximately 3.65 x 6.50 inches, with the signature measuring approximately 3.25 inches in length. This piece would look great matted and framed with small portraits of both individuals, especially since Hayes, in a post-war interview, credited Lindbergh with being one of the reasons that he wanted to become a pilot (he almost touched the famous aviator at a parade in his honor). This is a very attractive presentation piece for the aviation or World War II enthusiast, especially given the respect Hayes had for Charles Lindbergh.
The presently offered piece is in excellent physical condition, with sharp contrast and great eye appeal. Very light toning is present across the surface, darker on the back where glue was used to assemble the envelope. The ink retention is very good, especially at the signature. The embossing on the seal is bold, with the aircraft appearing quite well defined. One corner fold is noted at the lower right, well away from any material, while a diagonal line bisects the seal from 2:00 to 7:00. Blue smudging can be seen on the back of the piece, possibly smeared during the printing process (the color appears to be the same as the blue in the design). Very attractive.