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PacNote #6 – In Memoriam: Admiral Thomas B. Hayward, US Navy Ret.

The Pacific Forum has lost a valued mentor. We deeply regret the passing of Adm. Thomas B. Hayward, US Navy Ret., at age 97 on March 3 in Seattle. Adm. Hayward was the 21st Chief of Naval Operations from 1978 to 1982. He was, until his passing, vice-chairman of the Pacific Forum’s International Advisory Board.

With roots in California, Tom Hayward fought as a Navy aviator in Korea and Vietnam. In 1957, he competed to be one of the first seven astronauts. Fortunately—for the Navy—he was not selected. The Navy benefited from his very special kind of leadership. In the aftermath of Vietnam he became the Seventh Fleet commander, helping to restore US credibility in East Asia. As US Pacific Fleet commander in 1976 he dealt with the challenges of the transition from the draft to an all-volunteer Navy.

In 1978, Tom Hayward became Chief of Naval Operations, serving under presidents Carter and Reagan. He was one of the great leaders of the US Navy at a crucial Cold War moment, when the Soviet Union begin to deploy its “Blue Water” navy, threatening US command of the sea. As he testified before Congress, there had been insufficient recognition of the importance of this critical concept. Tom Hayward’s efforts focused on enhanced “pride and professionalism” and on the doctrine of “Maritime Superiority.” The US response was the 600-ship Navy and Pacific operations involving four aircraft carriers for the first time since World War II.

In 1974, Rear Admiral L.R. “Joe” Vasey established the Pacific Forum with Adm. Hayward’s encouragement. After Hayward’s 1982 retirement from active duty, he resided in Honolulu and participated often in the Forum’s activities. Conferences around the Pacific and East Asia are common today, even with COVID-19. But in the 1970s and 1980s, there was much less such activity. Early delegations to and from Shanghai broke ground in the opening to China. Tom Hayward was deeply involved, yet had no illusions about the challenging relationship the United States and China would always have.

Adm. Hayward was always interested in the education of America’s young people, and he worked closely for many years with leaders in online learning, well before the pandemic forced its use more broadly.

We at Pacific Forum will miss Admiral Hayward—he was always available to us, even in his later years. Well into his 90s, Tom Hayward would fly in for Pacific Forum events. His example lives on, and inspires many young Fellows and future leaders—our next generation—some of whom will follow in his footsteps.

– James A. Kelly, Chairman, Board of Directors, Pacific Forum International