World War II sailor re­turn­ing for burial

Mass to be held at St. Joseph’s on Wed­nes­day

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JA­SON BAB­COCK jbab­cock@somd­news.com

Al­bert Eu­gene Hay­den, killed in the bomb­ing of Pearl Har­bor on Dec. 7, 1941, is fi­nally re­turn­ing home to his na­tive St. Mary’s County for burial next week.

Hay­den and the re­mains of four other U.S. sailors killed aboard the USS Ok­la­homa were iden­ti­fied by the De­fense POW/ MIA Ac­count­ing Agency in Jan­uary. At the time, of­fi­cials said that Hay­den was to be buried in Dorch­ester County, home to his near­est next of kin, in March. Hay­den’s nephew, Ed­ward “Pete” Hay­den, 76, lives in Crapo.

Ac­cord­ing to fam­ily wishes, a Mass will be held for Al­bert Hay­den at St. Joseph’s Church in Mor­ganza on Wed­nes­day, May 18, at 12:30 p.m., fol­lowed by burial at that church’s ceme­tery.

Ron­nie Kissinger of Port Repub­lic, one of Al­bert Hay­den’s first cousins, was al­ready fa­mil­iar with her fam­ily’s genealogy. She never met Al­bert Hay­den, but when she read that his re­mains had been iden­ti­fied all th­ese decades later, “the story touched my heart,” she said.

When she read that he was to buried near Crapo in Dorch­ester County, “I said, ‘where in the devil is Crapo, Mary­land?’”

Con­tact­ing au­thor­i­ties, “I could not track down the next of kin. They wouldn’t re­lease the in­for­ma­tion,” she said.

Kissinger con­tacted the Mary­land De­part­ment of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs for as­sis­tance.

Fi­nally, Kissinger was able to con­tact Ed­ward Hay­den and she of­fered to help in any way that she could. She vol­un­teered to take over the burial ar­range­ments for him.

She said Ed­ward Hay­den “was ab­so­lutely de­lighted to speak to some­one from the West­ern Shore be­cause ‘that was my grand­mother’s wish, to bring him home to the fam­ily.’”

Kissinger said Ed­ward Hay­den will present the cas­ket-draped flag to Leonard Hall Ju­nior Naval Academy in Leonard­town, where Al­bert Hay­den at­tended school.

Al­bert Hay­den was listed as a Me­chan­icsville res­i­dent at the time of his death. He was born in Piney Point and was sur­vived by his mother, Emma Hay­den of Me­chan­icsville, and four broth­ers: B. Win­gate of Bal­ti­more; James D. of Pitts­burgh; Roland F. of Wash­ing­ton and Ralph V. Hay­den of New York.

Ed­ward Hay­den is the son of B. Win­gate Hay­den.

“It’s been a very re­ward­ing ride, some­times like a roller coaster,” Kissinger said of get­ting Al­bert Hay­den re- turned to his home county.

“It puts clo­sure to the chap­ter in our his­tory. It’s re­ally a his­tor­i­cal event,” Kissinger said.

Re­cent let­ters to the edi­tor have sug­gested that a new ele­men­tary school to be built on Route 5 in Great Mills be named af­ter Al­bert Hay­den. Af­ter all, Capt. Wal­ter Fran­cis Duke Ele­men­tary School in Leonard­town was named af­ter an­other county na­tive lost dur­ing World War II.

Kissinger said she agrees with that idea. “I think it’s won­der­ful,” she said. Al­bert Hay­den “should have some­thing named af­ter him. We’re just so proud to be part of this his­tory,” she said.

The Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported on May 5, 1942, that Chief Petty Of­fi­cer Hay­den was a chief elec­tri­cian’s mate aboard the Ok­la­homa. He at­tended Leonard Hall Mil­i­tary Academy and Char­lotte Hall Mil­i­tary Academy be­fore en­list­ing in the Navy in 1917 in the Great War. He served on the bat­tle­ship Texas in the North Sea dur­ing that war.

In the at­tack on Pearl Har­bor, there were 2,402 Amer­i­can deaths, with 1,177 of those aboard the USS Ari­zona and 429 on the USS Ok­la­homa, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial web­site of the USS Ok­la­homa.

Al­bert Hay­den was listed by Life mag­a­zine as the first Mary­lan­der to die in World War II, Kissinger found.

The Ok­la­homa was hit by nine tor­pe­does be­fore it sank and cap­sized in the mud. The ship was sal­vaged in late 1942 and 1943, ac­cord­ing to the Naval His­tory and Her­itage Com­mand. While the Ok­la­homa was ul­ti­mately sal­vaged, it sunk dur­ing a storm while be­ing towed in the Pa­cific Ocean in May 1947.

Dur­ing the sal­vage work, a mix of skele­tal re­mains still aboard were com­min­gled and buried in Hawaii.

Fed­eral of­fi­cials an­nounced in Novem­ber it had com­pletely dis­in­terred all of the re­mains from the USS Ok­la­homa in an ef­fort to iden­tify all that are pos­si­ble.

The DPAA along with the De­part­ment of Vet­eran Af­fairs ex­humed the re­mains of 388 ser­vice mem­bers from 45 graves at the Na­tional Me­mo­rial Ceme­tery of the Pa­cific in Hawaii.

Work­ing with the Armed Forces DNA Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Lab­o­ra­tory us­ing DNA sam­ples from fam­ily mem­bers, the DPAA es­ti­mates that 80 per­cent of the un­known re­mains from the Ok­la­homa can be iden­ti­fied in the next five years. Those that can­not be iden­ti­fied will be rein­terred at Ar­ling­ton Na­tional Ceme­tery in Vir­ginia.

St. Mary’s County lost at least 47 ser­vice­men in World War II, ac­cord­ing to a listing of those lost in the Dec. 29, 1950 is­sue of the Beacon.

Kissinger thanked Ge­orge Owings III, sec­re­tary of the Mary­land De­part­ment of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs and a for­mer state del­e­gate, ex­ec­u­tive as­sis­tant Katie Son­ntag; Quincy John­son, Navy ca­su­alty of­fi­cer; Catholic Ceme­ter­ies and Leonard Hall Ju­nior Naval Academy for their as­sis­tance.

A map shows the ships and their lo­ca­tions at Pearl Har­bor on the morn­ing of Dec. 7, 1941, which re­sulted in 2,402 Amer­i­can deaths when the Ja­panese at­tacked, pulling the United States into World War II.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF THE NAVY HIS­TORY AND HER­ITAGE COM­MAND

The USS Ok­la­homa, right, sank into the mud next to the USS Mary­land in the at­tack on Pearl Har­bor on Dec. 7, 1941. Al­bert Eu­gene Hay­den of Me­chan­icsville was one of 429 killed aboard the Ok­la­homa. Hay­den’s re­mains are re­turn­ing for burial in St. Mary’s County on Wed­nes­day, May 18.

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