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Robert W. Hayler
Birth name Robert Ward Hayler
Born (1891-06-07)7 June 1891
Died 17 November 1980(1980-11-17) (aged 89)
Place of birth Sandusky, Ohio
Place of death Carmel, California
Buried at Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1914 – 1953
Rank US-O9 insignia.svg Vice admiral
Service number 08611
Commands held USS Howard (DD-179)
USS Melvin (DD-335)
USS Honolulu (CL-48)
Cruiser Division Twelve and others
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Gold star
Gold star
Navy Cross (3)
Silver Star Medal
Gold star
Legion of Merit (2)
Gold star
Bronze Star Medal (2)
Navy Commendation Medal

Robert Ward Hayler (7 June 1891 – 17 November 1980) was a United States Navy Vice admiral and three time recipient of the Navy Cross, the Navy's second highest military decoration for valor. He was also the namesake of USS Hayler (DD-997).


Robert Ward Hayler was born in Sandusky, Ohio on 7 June 1891 to Edward G. Hayler (1864 – 1939), a railroad commercial agent and Nellie Gould-Hayler (1864 – 1939). He spent much of his youth in Muncie, Indiana where he graduated from High School in 1909. He subsequently graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1914 where he also served as manager of the football team.[1]

Hayler's first ship was the battleship USS Georgia (BB-15) which he joined during the campaign at Veracruz, Mexico. During World War I, he was aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma (BB-37) based in Scapa Flow with the British Grand Fleet. He was then ordered to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston as a student in ordnance engineering.[1]

Following M. I. T., he commanded the San Diego-based destroyers USS Howard (DD-179) and USS Melvin (DD-335), and served three tours at the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, Rhode Island.[1]

World War II

At the outbreak of World War II, then Captain Hayler was in command of the newly reopened Torpedo Station at Alexandria, Virginia, which had been idle since the end of World War I.[1]

In June 1942, he was ordered to sea in command of the cruiser USS Honolulu (CL-48) that participated in some of the heaviest fighting in the Pacific around Guadalcanal. On the night of 30 November 1942, Honolulu was credited with helping turn back the Japanese forces at Savo Island and was one of the few heavy U. S. ships not damaged. Captain Hayler received a Navy Cross for his actions. On 5–6 July 1943, Honolulu supported the landings at New Georgia Island and became engaged with numerically superior hostile forces. Captain Hayler led a column of ships into this action that became known as the Battle of Kula Gulf. For this he received his second Navy Cross. A week later at the Battle of Kolombangara, Honolulu again led the battle and helped in the destruction of at least four Japanese ships. This time, though, Honolulu was severely damaged. Her bow was blown off as far back as the forward turret, and the ship received a torpedo hit in the stern. No one was killed and Honolulu returned safely to port. Captain Hayler received a Silver Star for this action.[1]

In March 1944, Captain Hayler was promoted to Rear admiral, and given command of Cruiser Division TWELVE (MONTPELIER, DENVER, COLUMBIA, and CLEVELAND). By this time the war had moved to the Central Pacific where the Division participated in the assaults of Saipan, Tinian and Palau.[1]

Cruiser Division TWELVE provided bombardment and fire support for the landings at Leyte Gulf on 20 October 1944. This was the largest amphibious operation in the Southeast Pacific Area. For this Admiral Hayler received a Gold Star in place of a second Legion of Merit, his first Legion of Merit having been awarded for his actions in the southern Marianas. On 25 October 1944, Rear Admiral Hayler was in command of the left flank of the U. S. Forces of Surgao Strait, an action which resulted in the annihilation of a large portion of the Japanese Fleet. For this action Rear Admiral Hayler received a Gold Star in lieu of a third Navy Cross. In December 1944, he was transferred to the Navy Department in Washington where he was a member of the General Board.[1]


In 1948 Admiral Hayler was ordered to Charleston, South Carolina, as Commandant, SIXTH Naval District. He was retired in 1951, but remained on active duty as president, Permanent General Court-Martial, Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois, until 1953. He was permanently retired with the rank of Vice Admiral by virtue of his combat decorations. He then moved to Carmel, California where he made his home.[1]

Admiral Hayler died 17 November 1980 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, 25 November 1980 with his wife, Nola Birch Hayler (3 February 1895 – 19 July 1974).[2] USS Hayler's' keel was laid 20 October 1980, just under a month prior to his death. His son Captain Robert Ward Hayler, Jr. USN (1918 – 2004} and his wife are also buried at Arlington National Cemetery.[2]

Awards and honors

His decorations include the Navy Cross with two Gold Stars, the Silver Star Medal, the Legion of Merit with one Gold Star, the Bronze Star Medal with one Gold Star, the Navy Commendation Medal, which he received for his services at the Alexandria Torpedo Station, and the Navy Unit Commendation for the HONOLULU.[3]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Navy document "Robert W. Hayler".

External links

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