In August 2019 3-time Purple Heart recipient, Vietnam War Veteran William Roland Hayes, received a long overdue honor during a beautiful ceremony at the Naval and Military Park. Mr. Hayes, now 71 whose heroic actions earned him three Purple Heart medals after being wounded on separate occasions in battle, and a Bronze Star, received his medals in the mail after he was honorably discharged and returned home to Buffalo.
On July 29 Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, formally presented Mr. Hayes his medals at a special ceremony. As a Paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division, he arrived in Vietnam in 1967 and started out as a cook.
After being disrespected by a White sergeant, which resulted in words between the two, he was sent to the front lines as an “infantryman in a demolition platoon” as punishment.
Although combat nearly cost him his life, he ended up a hero. He received a standing ovation from family, friends and well-wishers who gathered to witness the presentation.
He expressed his heartfelt thanks to the VA System in his remarks, adding, “Every time you see a Vet, remember, all Vets have story that needs to be told for history, for family and country.” Congratulations Mr. Hayes
Though he’d received his medals by mail years ago, Hayes was publicly honored by Rep. Brian Higgins at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park in advance of National Purple Heart Day on Aug. 7.
Hayes, spoke about his combat experiences Wednesday, Aug. 28, at the Merriweather Jr. Library, 1324 Jefferson Ave.