05 July 2012

A True Patriot

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 to think."

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 to serve.

"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."

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