Sgt. Dennis Edward Hayes was KIA (in Europe) 23 Oct 1944. I think he was originally buried at Epinal, France; but his body was returned home in 1948 for reburial in the cemetery at Barstow, Ward Co, Texas. There is no information on his tombstone regarding his military service.
He had no children and I have, thus far, been unable to find who in the family might have had any papers related to his service. All his siblings except one are deceased. Denny was married at the time of his death and his widow (with whom the family lost contact many years ago) would have been the logical person to have them; in any case, the probability of her still living and still having them is remote.
Oddly enough, I cannot find him by name or serial number in the NARA database of enlistees, which is very frustrating. I did find Denny's name and Army serial number on the list of casualties for Ward County, Texas. (listed as Sgt. Dennis E. Hayes, Serial #38439255).
I also have copies of two pertinent newspaper clippings:
Nov 10, 1944:
"DENNY E. HAYES KILLED IN ACTION
Sergeant Denny E. Hayes, son of Mr. and Mrs. P.A. Hayes of Barstow, was killed in action in France on Oct. 24. His parents have been notified."
June 10, 1948:
"BODY OF SERGEANT DENNIS HAYES OF BARSTOW RETURNED
The Body of Sergeant Dennis E. Hayes of Barstow, who was killed in action at Epinal France [sic] on October 24, 1944 was returned to Barstow this morning. He was a member of the famed 44th Division."
(The rest of that article simply names family members and the time/date of the funeral. No further military information is included in it.) I doubt that he was actually killed at Epinal; it's much more likely that he was buried there for a time, but I certainly don't know that for sure.
Going on that one line, that Denny was in the 44th Division, I found a book on ebay called Index to the General Orders, 44th Infantry Division, by Brandon T. Wiegand. Bought the thing and, sure enough, there on page 57 is listed:
Hayes, Dennis E., SGT, 324th Infantry, 44th Division PH KIA (44DIVAGOBD)
Now, for some reason (failing memory in an old mind?) I had it in my head that Denny Hayes drove a tank, just like his cousin Arthur "Bud" Hayes. From the way I read the above, it appears that's not true.
So, here's my questions:
What's the "324th Infantry"? A regiment? A battalion? How do I find out where the 324th was on October 24, 1944, when Denny was killed? Am I assuming too much to think that one line in the Index to GO book is telling me enough to know what Denny's unit was? How much smaller units (above his company's alph designation) should I be looking for?
I don't have Denny's social security number. It's listed as one of the necessary items when requesting service records. Is it possible for me to fill out a form 180 without it and get something from NARA? Does the fact that NARA doesn't have him in their enlistment database indicate they won't be able to find anything on his service? (but, if that's true - how come they're able to list him on casualties from his home county in Texas?)
I'm so new to researching this stuff. I have all my Dad's military papers, so this is covering unknown territory for me. Help and suggestions on what to do to find out more about this honored cousin's sacrifice would be gratefully received.
Edited by Pen, 14 July 2009 - 01:30 PM.