Featured Rotarian: Admiral Thomas B. Hayward

Thomas B. Hayward was born in Glendale, California, in 1924— a carefree time in America. Nineteen years later, with his country at war, Admiral Hayward was called to active duty as a Naval aviation cadet. His driving ambition was to become a fighter pilot. In 1944, with the advice and guidance of his Navy Preflight V 5 instructors, he competed for a slot at the U.S. Naval Academy and was accepted.

This was the launching of a long and rewarding career. At the Academy, Admiral Hayward impressed everyone he met. Fellow midshipman William Crowe would recall years later that “even then he possessed the marks of an exceptional individual.” The Lucky Bag noted that “anything tickling the funny bone would be sure to bring out the abundant sense of humor possessed by this genial ambassador from the West Coast.” The Class of 1948, like other wartime classes, graduated early.

Admiral Hayward reported to the carrier USS Antietam (CV 36) and served for two years as a “black shoe” engineer before reporting to flight training to resume his true career ambition. On winning his Wings of Gold, Admiral Hayward reported to Fighter Squadron 51. He entered the Naval Academy during one war and completed his training just in time to defend his country in another, on the Korean Peninsula. In the next three years, with more than two of them deployed to Korea, he flew 146 missions from the carriers USS Essex (CV 9) and USS Valley Forge (CVA 45), earning the Distinguished Flying Cross, 10 air medals and three Commendation Medals with Combat V.

The battle tested veteran took on increased responsibilities assuming command of Fighter Squadron 103 and later Attack Carrier Air Wing Ten which Admiral Hayward reformed into an all attack wing deployed to a new hot spot—Vietnam. He flew 36 combat missions from USS Intrepid (CV 11), earning the Legion of Merit and three air medals. In 1969, he commanded the attack carrier USS America (CV 66) which deployed to Vietnam and was selected for Rear Admiral. More responsibilities followed. In 1975, Vice Admiral Hayward assumed command of the Seventh Fleet. A year later, Admiral Hayward served as Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet. In 1978, Admiral Hayward became Chief of Naval Operations and a member of the Joint Chiefs.

His four year tenure was marked by a surge in pride and professionalism within the ranks, an increase in fleet readiness and a bold zero tolerance drug policy that stopped a growing problem in its tracks. In retirement, Admiral Hayward became chairman of the Ethics Resource Center of America and has worked to promote ethics curriculum and programs. He has actively participated in the establishment of several Navy related museums, including the USS Missouri Foundation and the Military Aviation Museum. He has worked tirelessly for literacy reform in public schools through Voyager Expanded Learning, a company he co-founded in 1994, which now serves well over one million at-risk public school youngsters.

Admiral Hayward and his wife, Peggy, are blessed with two children, a grandchild and two great-grandchildren. Admiral Hayward is renowned for his leadership in times of war and peace and respected as an exceptional individual in the service of his country. He has been a Seattle 4 member since 2002.