MSgt. John Hayes (Courtesy of the Force Recon Association)
Died: July 8, 2009
Master Sergeant John Hayes was killed in action on 8 July by a suspected pressure plate IED in Afghanistan. They were traveling as part of a four vehicle movement returning to FB Fiddlers Green.
Also killed was Lance Corporal Roger Hager, an Armorer attached to Alpha Company. Both Marines were killed instantly.
MSgt. Hayes' funeral will be conducted at Arlington National Cemetery on 10 August at 15:00.
Middleburg man killed in Afghanistan
July 14, 2009
ORANGE PARK – A memorial service will likely be held soon for a Middleburg native killed July 8 while on a Marine patrol in Afghanistan.
Master Sgt. John E. Hayes, 36, was in the first of two vehicles returning from a reconnaissance mission when an improvised explosive device (IED) planted in the road was set off. The blast also killed the 20-year-old Marine driving the vehicle and critically injured three other Marines.
"We will have some kind of memorial," said Hayes' mother-in-law, Betsy Kahmer, of Eagle Nest Lane in Middleburg.
Hayes' body was returned to the Dover Air Force Base two days after he was killed and the Marines made provisions for his wife and children to be there, Kahmer said.
"His final wishes were to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery and she will honor those," Kahmer said. "We wish we could bury him here but we will respect his wishes."
Kahmer said her daughter is determined to stay strong for the children.
"She fell apart (when notified of the death), but she's a Marine's wife. She is going to be fine once the initial shock is over," Kahmer said.
Hayes had enlisted in the Marine Corps a few months before he graduated in 1991 from Middleburg High. His wife, Shannon, graduated the same year and the two later got married and moved to Camp LeJeune, N.C., where he was stationed for most of his career.
He served several tours overseas, including in Jordan where his wife and two children went to live with him. The family later moved back to Camp LeJeune and now has three children: Catherine, 14; Jacob, 8; and Emily, 4.
Two more overseas tours to Iraq followed. But when he left May 15 for Afghanistan this one felt different, Kahmer said.
"We knew this was great possibility with him going to Afghanistan. Neither she nor I felt real good about it," Kahmer said.
Hayes was the operations chief for Company A, 2d Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 3, 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade. He was promoted to the rank of master sergeant in September 2008. Hayes also deployed to Iraq in 2007 and 2003, Kosovo and Albania in 1998, and Kuwait in 1991.
"This is the finest young man I have known in my life," Kahmer said. "We have known him and his family since he was 16 years old. He and my daughter were high school sweethearts, so we saw a lot of him."
"My son-in-law was a hero and always will be."
Once news of Hayes' death was reported by local media the couple has been inundated with calls of support and sympathy, she said.
"We have gotten a lot of phone calls, a lot of emails. I can't tell you the number of people I haven't been in touch with for years that saw it on TV and saw it in the paper. They've all been wonderful," she said.
Hayes' father, Frank, also lives in the Middleburg area.