This week, we’re honoring the veterans who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to serve our nation. David Hayward is a shining example. As a WWII U.S. Army Air Force veteran, he’s triumphed over countless situations and has gone through difficult times in the service of his country. Today, he works with The Freedom Committee of Orange County to teach the coming generations about the value of liberty.
The first flight: a taste of coming trouble
As a newly trained pilot flying a B-25 two-engine bomber, David eagerly joined the 22nd Bomb Squadron and received his overseas orders to protect an aerial supply line over the Himalaya Mountains. On April 8, 1943, he set out for his first combat mission to attack enemy airfields and supply lines. It was a mission he wouldn’t forget.
Spotting a Japanese squadron flying just below his own, he pushed the throttle to maximum. The enemy continued inching closer.
Unable to outpace the squadron, he continued on course, taking a moment to glance out the window. He was surprised to find a lone fighter plane, one of the enemy squadrons, that had risen to his altitude and was now flying parallel alongside his own bomber. Strangely, no shots were fired. Just moments later, the fighter returned to his squadron. David was in the clear—and thankful the situation didn’t escalate.
Courage that takes action and gets the mission done
The encounter with the Japanese fighter was the first, but not the last, of many difficult situations David would face. In January of 1944, his squadron moved to China to continue attacking enemy airfields and supply lines into territory as far as what is now Vietnam. Flying conditions were rough and the navigating was often difficult, but through these trying times, he always put his heart into the mission and found great success.
David has been credited with 53 combat bombing missions. For his time in the Air Force, he’s earned many decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal w/OLC, Asiatic-Pacific Theater Medal with 2 Bronze Stars, WWII Victory and the Burma Star Medal.
From freedom fighter to freedom writer
Even after returning home, David never stopped working to protect the liberties we enjoy as Americans. Drawing on his experiences in the Air Force, he authored “A Young Man in the Wild Blue Yonder,” a book recounting his own journey serving his country, and “World War II Diary,” a collection of stories from pilots in the 22nd Bomb Squadron.
Through the years, he’s made six journeys back to China to welcome WWII veterans and remember the bittersweet days spent there. In 2014, he joined the Freedom Committee of Orange County and served on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors. He founded and edited the quarterly newspaper to promote the message of passing the torch of liberty to future generations. This publication has been well-loved by its readers for its innovative style.
In addition to his work as a leader and writer, David has given numerous presentations to local groups and organizations. His words have inspired many who have listened--middle and high school students, young adults at Vanguard University, and troops of Boy Scouts.
It’s veterans like David who make our country strong
A brave fighter and a bold advocate, David has done so much to teach the next generation to preserve and love the hard-won liberty fought for by men like him.
The hard work and sacrifice of people like David is what allows us to enjoy our daily freedom. That’s why we are committed to sharing the stories of extraordinary veterans who have proven their courage and passion. Keep up with us on Facebook and on our blog to read more stories like David’s.