Living Memorial For Langston Hayes

Submitter’s Name: Kyle Chasteen 
The Service Member’s Name: Langston Hayes
Branch of Service: Army
Rank: Specialist/E-4
Military Job: 11B Infantry
Hometown for Service Member:
Red Oak, TX

Submitted by Navarro College student, Chasteen Kyle

The Veteran I interviewed Langston Bill Hayes.  I consider this man a hero to both his country and family.  I think of him as good friend and I look up to him as a second father figure.  It was a pleasure to do this interview with him.  I want to say thank you to him – and every other veteran that his served this country.

Question – What branch of the military did you join? 
Langston – I was infantry.

Question – What made you pick the branch you joined?
Langston – I picked the Army because my dad was in the Army, and my grandpa, and my uncle.

Question – Do you recall your first days in service? 
Langston – Yes there was a lot of fear.  They take you away from your family and lock you in a room with a bunch of other guys for 13 weeks (for the job I took).  So, yea it was scary.

Question – Can you tell me about boot camp and training experiences? 
Langston – Boot camp started out with the drill sergeants yelling at you as you were getting off the bus.  They build a schedule and they train you to do things in an exact way so they can teach you to follow orders.  Everything you did was controlled, right up to graduation.

Question – What wars did you serve in?
Langston – I spent seven months peace keeping in Kosovo, and then served in Operation Iraqi Freedom.  I was there when the war started.

Question – Do you remember arriving there and your first thoughts?
Langston – My first thought was, “How is this plane going to land when it flying straight down?”  We did a combat landing and it was my first combat landing.  How that works is the plane flies straight down – they just drop the nose of the plane straight down until it gets about 400 or 500 feet from the ground – and then lift it straight up.  Getting off the plane was also a shock because we were being shot at and there were bombs going off.  It was war; it was all that training turned real.

Question – What was your job assignment during the war? 
Langston – I was the lead driver for a convoy for our camp.  We also pulled guard and went through town making sure there were no insurgents in town because they were the opposing force.  There were some Iraqis on our side and they helped us do some of our missions.  I was also the company armorer.  I maintained all the weapons, repairing them, ordering parts, etc.    

Question – How did you stay in touch with your family? 
Langston – It really depended on where we went.  In Iraq, each soldier would get five minutes to use to the phone, if there was one available.  In Iraq it was letters for the first few weeks, then a few phone calls. 

Question – What was the food like? 
Langston – It started out MREs (meals ready to eat) and dirt.  The dirt tasted better.  After a month or two, the Kurdish came in and gave us warm meals every other day.  Mostly it was lamb.  It was not that bad, it was just different.

Question – Did you feel any pressure or stress while over there? 
Langston – (laughs) Well I don’t know you tell me – my first week there I slept under my bed.  I was scared from the gunfire and blowing up all around us.  The second week I was able to sleep on my bed.  By sleep, I mean lay there, stare at the inside of my sleeping bag and hope that I would not die.  After that, that particular stress went away because you got use to the sounds of being shot at and stuff blowing.  Then it became the stress of how the operations were going.

Question – Did you anything special for good luck? 
Langston – I hid.  No not really, I did not do or have anything.  I just listened and did what I could to remember everything they taught me.  There is not much you can do. 

Question – Did you keep a personal diary? 
Langston – No.  I did not keep one.  Other than letters I did not keep anything.

Question – Do you recall the day your service ended? 
Langston – It was mixed feelings.  I miss it.  There is a 50/50 chance I would go back, but there is the other percent where I have family here and I would not want to miss them. 

Question – Did your military experience change your way of thinking about the military?
Langston – Early on, I thought the military was cool and just knew that I always wanted to be in the Army; and it was just like any other job.  After doing it, I learned honor, respect, loyalty, and all the core values.  I expect respect and loyalty.

Question – Do you have anything to say to my generation?  Warnings of joining the force or anything positive about joining? 
Langston – I think everyone should have to join for at least two years.  Just to get basic knowledge and maybe just gun safety.  I think it could benefit everyone if they go through one or two years of it.  If you join, expect to get what you give.  Learn how to take criticism.  Learn how to listen and learn.

Student’s final comments:  Once again, I want to thank every Veteran for his or her sacrifice.  Without your dedication, this country would be just like the others we are trying to help.  I am glad you were selfless and know that by risking your life, every American can sleep in peace at night.