VETERAN HONORED: Clarence Edward Hayes is pictured with family during his 97th birthday party. Below, he is pictured with his birthday cake. At bottom, a picture of his medals and citations during WWII hangs on his wall at home.
Medical Leader | Photos by ABIGAIL GIBSON

Legacy of service: Floyd County WWII veteran, hero turns 97

BETSY LAYNE — Yielding to the inalterable process of aging, the men and women who fought and won the great conflict of World War II are now in their late 80s and 90s. 


Less than 900,000 WWII veterans remain from the more than 16 million that served.


One of those last serving veterans in Kentucky, Command Sergeant Clarence Edward Hayes, recently celebrated his 97th birthday on Jan. 25. Hayes enlisted in the Army when he was 20 years old and served as an aircraft welder from 1940-1946.


Hayes said, “I worked on airplanes in the Army and kept ‘em flying.”


During his time in the Army, Hayes was stationed in Africa and Italy. When Hayes returned home, he opened Hayes Brothers Drilling, where they drilled gas and water wells and the company helped with the expansion of US Route 23. He later opened Hayes Mining.


Hayes was born and raised in Bosco and attended Maytown High School. He currently resides in Betsy Layne. He has attended Betsy Layne Church of Christ for the past 70 years.


Hayes has a dog named Bandit who would ride to Betsy Layne Church of Christ and wait outside the church doors for service to end. Hayes and Bandit would then get in the car and ride back home together.


Hayes said he can give all kinds of advice to young individuals, “Most of all, to be a Christian.”


When Hayes was able, he really enjoyed fishing by boat. “I like to catch anything that wants to hit my hook.”


He also likes watching University of Kentucky basketball.


Hayes has five children, Orris, Randy, David, Wayne and Joyce. He has six grandkids and seven great-grandchildren. He was married to the late Anna Ruth Layne Hayes.


He was very excited after learning of his birthday party, coordinated by his family.


“It was a surprise, I’m not used to anything like this. I’m happy and very much pleased,” said Hayes.