MSgt. John Hayes
MSgt. Hayes' funeral will be conducted at Arlington National Cemetery on 10 August at 15:00.
Middleburg man killed in Afghanistan
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.
Marine Corps IDs two recon Marines killed in Afghanistan
The Marine Corps has released the names of two Camp Lejeune Marines killed Wednesday while supporting combat operation in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Master Sgt. John Hayes, 36, of Middleburg, Fla., and Lance Cpl. Roger Hager, 20, of Gibsonville were assigned to 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion.
Hayes, was the operations chief for Company A, 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 3, according to a press release from II Marine Expeditionary Force. He joined the Marine Corps July 1991 and was promoted to the rank of master sergeant in September 2008.
Hayes deployed to Afghanistan in April. His previous deployments included Kosovo and Albania in 1998, Kuwait in 1991 and Iraq in 2003 and 2007.
Hayes is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son.
His awards include two Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medals, three Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medals, two Combat Action Ribbons, a Joint Meritorious Unit Award, a Navy Unit Commendation, two Navy Meritorious Unit Citations, five Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals, two National Defense Service Medals, and Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, a Southwest Asia Service Medal, two Kosovo Campaign medals, a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Armed Forces Service Medal, two Humanitarian Service Medals, six Sea Service Deployment Ribbons, a Marine Security Guard Ribbon, two NATO Medals, and the Kuwait Liberation Medal.
Some of his formal military training included School of Infantry, U.S. Army Airborne School, Marine Combat Dive School, Marine Scout Sniper School, U.S. Army Ranger School and Marine Security Guard School.
Hager was a small arms repairman assigned to Company A, 2d Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 3, 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade, according to the release. He joined the Maine Corps in August 2007 and was promoted to the rank of lance corporal in March of 2009. He deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in April.
Hager's awards include the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. His formal military training included Recruit Training, Marine Combat Training and Small Arms Repair School.