He served aboard the U.S.S. Wahoo submarine as an Electrician's Mate Second Class during World War II. The submarine was sunk by Japanese aircraft in the La Perouse Strait between Japan and Russia on October 11, 1943. Eighty men lost their lives in the depths of the icy cold waters. Hayes was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart.
|Main deck of the USS Wahoo (Photo: Iskra)|
The U.S.S. Wahoo left from Pearl Harbor for its seventh and final patrol on September 9, 1943 under the command of the aggressive and celebrated Navy Commander Dudley "Mush" Morton. The Wahoo sank at least nineteen Japanese ships, more than any other submarine of the time.
The submarine was believed to be lost in the depths of the sea until the Wahoo Project Group was launched in 1995. The project was made up of an international team of Americans, Australians, Japanese, and Russians, and led by a relative of Commander Mush Morton.
|Main gun of the USS Wahoo (Photo: Iskra)|
On July 8, 2007, the US Navy held a wreath laying ceremony at the confirmed site of the sinking of the Wahoo. On October 11, 2007, the US Navy held an official remembrance ceremony for the crew of the Wahoo. The ceremony was conducted at the USS Bowfin Museum and Submarine Park at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Hayes' only brother Staff Sergeant Rhuel Hayes was killed one year later in the Mediterranean.