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Channing Webster Hayes, Jr.

Died: October 24, 1969

Channing W. Hayes, Jr. was one of our earliest classmates to pass away. News of his death, expressed by word of mouth or through Yale publications, stunned us when we heard. It seemed improbable that one of us, bursting with youth and only a short time after graduation, could have died.

Chan came to Yale from Davenport, Iowa. He majored in industrial administration, with conflicting intentions to enter medical school or pursue a career as a Navy aviator. He followed family tradition and entered the Navy upon graduation. His sister, Nancy, relayed the story that when Chan was born, his father was at sea in the Pacific and telegraphed upon hearing the news, “The skipper is aboard.” His family, thereafter, call him Skip. The nickname did not carry into his Yale years, but it helps explain his choice of joining the Navy.

He had completed flight school at the top of his class and was on his second deployment aboard the USS Saratoga in the Mediterranean Sea when he died in a crash on October 24, 1969. He had been stationed at Norfolk, Virginia when the accident happened. He is survived by his wife, Maureen, a sister, Nancy, and a brother, Kevin. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Theodore Bahn remembers:

My memories of Chan start when I first met him at the Old Campus. He was in the Timothy Dwight section, and we became fast friends. He had amazing breadth of knowledge but was not arrogant about that knowledge. On November 24, 1963 we traveled to Washington DC to attend the funeral of President Kennedy. It was a very somber time for us.

When we moved from the Old Campus to TD we began rowing in the College competition. These rows were a hoot to practice for, and my feeble memory says we were regularly victorious (not verified).

Chan was an active, curious, and wonderful friend. We went everywhere together. We shared all the highs and lows of life. We learned to fly together (we were in Navy ROTC) while at Yale in the Flight Indoctrination Program (FIP). Through that program we earned our Single Engine Land Pilot’s Licenses and regularly flew together after we got our Pilot Licenses. Most of our time flying was over Connecticut and the Atlantic. Much fun practicing stalls and other maneuvers. We trusted each other explicitly, as those who have served in the military know so well.

We both went to Navy Flight School. Chan was successful in completion. He was a fantastic fighter pilot; having graduated the top in flight school. I completed Intelligence School in Denver, and we both reported to Squadrons that were aboard USS Saratoga. We were on two deployments together in the three years of sea duty. Chan was killed on the second deployment, along with his Radar Intercept Officer.

I have been in contact with his brother, Kevin, who has created a fascinating business providing vacuum tube amplifiers of the highest quality. In my sophomore year I had built a vacuum tube amplifier by Dynaco. Amazingly enough they are still selling parts!

This letter was composed two days after Channing W. Hayes was killed flying from the USS Saratoga, a carrier operating in the Mediterranean Sea.

I sent this letter to all of our friends, his widow and Mom and Dad. Every day I think of him. Hopefully we can look back on this period of our history and see the frightening parallels with today’s situation in the Middle East. The difference now is that we hide the dead at Dover Air Force Base.

I have reproduced the letter in entirety:

26 October, 1969

Chan was killed yesterday, when his F-4 crashed into the sea off Sardinia. They had a memorial service for him today. It was properly simple and uninvolved, in the great Navy tradition. They never mention the conflicts, the disappointments, the loves and the hates. They don’t talk about the person, only the mass. They might mention the name, but it is only in passing, almost parenthetically. It is as if they are afraid that the dead will hear and come to life if they are mentioned in anything but the remotest detail I don’t know why I went. His memory was much better when it was unencumbered by this service.

His loss seems so absolutely useless, needless. God, when will America wake up?

(This remembrance was first presented by Ted in the 25th Reunion Classbook)

Richard Allocca remembers:

In November, 1969, on the very day I was to make my first parachute jump, I got a letter from Ted Bahn, telling me that Chan Hayes had died when his F-4 Phantom Jet crashed into the Med off Sardinia. Chan had become a naval aviator. When I ran into him in 1969, his squadron was assigned to Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia, while I was serving in the Air Force. He was supposed to deploy to Vietnam, but at the last minute the deployment was changed to the Med, presumably out of harm’s way. In an irony of fate, he died in an accident. As for me, my first parachute jump went off without a hitch.