Senior Colonel Retires

Col. George Hays retired from active duty service on July 1 after 41 years in uniform, announced officials at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. Up until his retirement, he was the longest serving colonel in the Air Force, they said. Commissioned from Officer Training School in 1982, Hays initially enlisted in the Air Force in 1971, working communications in Vietnam. “I wasn’t in danger of being drafted, but my brother’s number was under 50, so we joined together,” said Hays in Elmendorf-Richardson’s June 28 release. Leading a Joint Special Operations Command communications team, Hays became one of only 13 airmen qualified as an Army Ranger at the time. “Instead of just an Air Force captain with my jump wings . . . I was now what they call a ‘master-blaster,” said Hays, building instant rapport with the soldiers, marines, and SEALs whom he led. Since Vietnam, Hays served in Panama and Iraq. He retired as the director of command, control, communications, and computer systems for US Alaskan Command. (Elmendorf-Richardson report by SSgt. Cynthia Spalding)