Airman Ranger retires after 41 years
by Staff Sgt. Cynthia Spalding
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Public Affairs
7/2/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska (AFNS) -- 41
years, 167 temporary duty assignments, 22 base assignments, 6
deployments and 3 wars later, Col. George W. Hays, the director of
Command, Control, Communications, and Computer Systems, Headquarters
Alaskan Command, retired from active duty service July 1 as the
longest-serving colonel in the Air Force.
"When I joined in 1971, I was a country boy from Eglin, Ore., who had
never been to a big city, no plane or bus of any kind," Hays said. "Then
I had to get on a bus to get on a plane to get on a bus and it all
seemed traumatic, but it was pretty exciting. I didn't know exactly what
Hays and his brother, who joined under the buddy system, were planning to serve only four years.
"I wanted to go on to college, however, my brother ended up doing 20 and well, you see where I'm at," Hays said.
Joining the military wasn't really popular due to the draft and the
Vietnam War, but his father and all seven of his uncles served in World
War II and his two oldest brothers were in the service as well. Keeping
with family tradition, he said as a male family member he was expected
"My draft number was 157," Hays said. "I wasn't in danger of being
drafted, but my brother's number was under 50, so we joined together. I
wanted to go to Vietnam and wanted to do my time serving the country
just like my family did before me."