Thomas Michael Hayes
West Point, 1969
Be Thou At Peace
Posted by Richard S. Beahm on July 5, 2012:
It was either in Reorgy Week of 1966 or shortly thereafter.A Either the very first parade for the Beanheads of B4 joining the 3 upper classes or at least one of the first.A We did all the "if you are taller than the man in front of you, move up" stuff and I was standing just in front of a Yearling I didn't know from Adam.A We knew some of the Cows and Firsties because they had been on the Beast Detail but we knew none of the Yearlings.A We were all being asked various items of Plebe Poop, asked to tell jokes, etc.A The guy directly behind me asked me a question, "Beanhead, where would you be if you were not here right now?" I had no idea who this guy was, never had heard his voice before, I did not know if there was a correct answer to this question or not.A It seemed that any question we had been asked during the past couple months had only one correct answer and we were required to know THAT answer.A After thinking about the question for about a nanosecond, I determined that the best possible answer was the truth.A Since my goal in life was to be a soldier and I had only applied to 3 schools after High School (West Point, VMI , and The Citadel) and I had been fortunate enough to have been accepted to all 3, I was ready to respond.A Knowing that a beanhead was not allowed to use acronyms I responded, "Sir, I would be at Virginia Military Institute." I was expecting to get harassed by the person behind me and/or everyone around but nothing happened.A The Yearling Cadet behind me was Tom Hayes who had spent a RAT Year at VMI and THEN started his Plebe year in the Class of '69 at West Point.A I later found out that his younger brother, Jimmy, did the same thing and was now my classmate at West Point as well.A Tom was one of the straight arrows from his class in B4 and he and I became great friends in the years that followed.A Not until after the Recognition Parade the following June though.A
I was able to keep track of Tom via the Assembly and also through Jimmy who became part of my bike team riding to raise funds for Multiple Sclerosis.A In 2009, Jimmy told me that Tom was fighting a battle against cancer and was at their Mom's house in Annandale while undergoing treatments at Johns Hopkins.A I had spoken to Tom on the phone a few times but wanted to see my old buddy so I stopped in to visit Tom after church on Sunday, 31 May 2009.A I retold the story of standing in front of him in 1966 and answering his question, "Beanhead, where would be if not here right now."A I told him how much his friendship had meant to me through the years.A Tommy died the next day.A I am ever so thankful that I did not put off my visit that last time.
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