The Veterans Memorial Archives of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce have made arrangements to return a dog tag found recently in the Philippines to the family of the Harrison County soldier who lost the tag more than 60 years ago.
A Boy Scout found the dog tag in a cave while on a camping trip on the island of Corregidor in the Philippines. During World War II, the island controlled the entrance to Manila Bay. When Corregidor was surrendered on May 6, 1942, Gene Edward Hayes of Salem was part of a group of soldiers manning anti-aircraft guns on the island. He was officially reported as a prisoner of war (POW) the next day and transported to a prison camp in Nagoya, Japan, where he reportedly died of pneumonia on April 17, 1945. He was buried in the Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines.
The dog tag will be presented to Hayes’ family in a ceremony in Salem on Monday, July 19.
Hayes was born on March 14, 1922, in Bristol. He was one of 10 children of Oliver Roscoe Hayes and Montana Esta Ash Hayes. He was inducted into the U.S. Army in February 1941 and served with the Coastal Artillery Corps.
Hayes’ older brother James also served during World War II and was killed in action on January 21, 1945. More information about the Hayes brothers can be found on the Division’s website at http://www.wvculture.org/history/wvmemory/vets/vetbios.html.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Visit the Division’s website at www.wvculture.org for more information about programs of the Division. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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Photo by Michael Keller
WV Division of Culture and History
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Deputy Commissioner/Communications Manager
West Virginia Division of Culture and History
The Cultural Center
1900 Kanawha Blvd., East
Charleston, WV 25305
Phone (304) 558-0220, ext. 120
Fax (304) 558-2779