HERMAN C. HAYDON
Patriot, Chapter 1919
Army, WWII, Europe
Herman C. Haydon was born in 1922.
His family had a ranch at that time on Hurst Creek
in what has now become Lakeway in Austin,
His lineage traces back to the earliest pioneer
settlers of the area.
His grandmother Hudson was from the family for which
Hudson Bend, on the Colorado River above
Austin, took its name. When
he was three years old, the Haydons moved to Leander, and later to Liberty
when his family moved from there back to Leander; and a few months later, on
March 20, 1941 he enlisted in the Army and entered active duty the same day.
He was sent to
San Antonio, went through Basic Training
at Camp Bullis, and then
was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division stationed at Fort Sam Houston.
He was further assigned to Company K, 9th Infantry
“We could go off-post in civilian clothes in those pre-WWII days and
enjoyed weekend passes visiting
Park and the
other attractions in and around
San Antonio, mostly whatever
was free because there wasn’t much money.
I was earning $21 a day, but that was only for one
day a month.
After war was declared we had to pack up our civilian clothes
and ship them back home.
I never wore civilian clothes again until the war
ended, none of us did.
Austin being conveniently
near San Antonio made it possible to visit home often, and being in uniform
made it free.
Hitchhiking wasn’t just legal, the public was
encouraged to give a soldier a ride.
It was the patriotic thing to do. I made a lot of
trips back home to Leander, hitchhiking every time, and never having to wait
more than a few minutes for a ride. There never was a time when one of the
first three cars to come by would not stop and pick me up.
It was also fairly common for drivers to take
servicemen right up to their front door."
When Herman first joined the Army, the 2d
Infantry Division was preparing for war and much of 1941 was not spent in
They participated in VIII Corps maneuvers during the
first two weeks of June in the area of Comanche,
From August 11 through October 2, 1941, and for
extended time in 1942, the division participated in the Louisiana maneuvers.
In November 1942 the division moved to
for winter training.
“At one point it was planned
for us to be ski troops, but they never issued us skis. Camp McCoy was cold,
I had frozen feet there.”
In September 1943, 2d Infantry Division moved to
New York and then sailed
from the New York Port of Embarkation on October 8th.
Herman’s entire 9th Infantry Regiment was on the
They arrived in Belfast, October 17, 1943 and
moved to stations in Northern Ireland where
they continued training and preparations for the
Normandy invasion landings.
Division Headquarters was established at Armagh and
the units were scattered about in the towns and hamlets elsewhere in
They found a local populace that was very
accepting and friendly to the troops.
“The day we arrived I was
immediately put on guard duty.
A young man with his wife and baby came up to my
guard post wanting to talk.
I told them that wasn’t permitted for sentinels on
duty, but I agreed to meet with them later. We did meet and that was the
beginning of a very good experience.
My new friend had a government job in agriculture.
Since he had to visit all the farms in the area, he
was one of the few civilians that had a car and he invited me to go along
with him whenever I could do so. Getting to travel about the Irish
countryside and meet farm families was all very new for me, and having come
from a Texas
farm family, very different.
I was especially astonished when during a visit
inside a farm home I turned around and there was a horse staring me in the
Bringing livestock into the farmhouse wasn’t what I’d
After about six-months in
Ireland, in April 1944 the
division was moved over into southern Wales,
landing at Pembrokeshire, and was positioned at various places in
Glamorganshire where they spent the remaining weeks in preparation.
When the invasion came, 2d Infantry Division was
part of the forces embarked in the Bristol Channel that crossed over to
the following day and landed at
on D+1, June 7, 1944.
Herman Haydon’s 9th Infantry Regiment, as part of
the division, was immediately committed to action enlarging the beachhead
and was part of the next three day’s fighting.
By June 10th
the regiment had crossed through
outflanking Trevieres, and resulting in liberation of the town.
In the days
and weeks afterward the division proceeded in the direction of St. Lo,
securing Hill 192, a key enemy strong point, on July 11th.
Herman was wounded on July 27th when still fighting
in the hedgerows of the bocage country in Normandy.
Today Herman says,
“A German machine gun opened up and I was hit in both legs.
At the time, I believed that one of my legs had been
shot off, and in fact it had been nearly severed.
No one was there to help me and I had to crawl,
dragging myself some distance in order to reach the safety of the hedgerow.”
He was taken back to a field hospital and then
sent back to a General
After one month and 20 days in Normandy,
the war was over for him.
After months in the hospital in
England, Herman Haydon was
shipped back to the United States.
He arrived in Boston harbor on
January 4, 1945 and was told he would be sent to a hospital near his home.
he was sent to Hammond
Modesto, California, and he
wasn’t the only one.
“During my nearly five years
service, I had never run across anyone from home, but in Modesto there were
three or four men in the hospital there with me that were all from Leander,
Herman was transferred to a
San Diego, but after
only a few weeks there it was determined that he was not ready for
convalescence, but required further treatment of his wounds.
As a result, he was transferred to
Brigham City, Utah.
He had been granted brief furloughs home and during
one such visit he had met a Miss Edith Guynes, a girl from
In June 1945, on a furlough home from the hospital
Herman and Edith were married. The doctors at Bushnell
Hospital had plans for
his continued treatment, but the war had ended months before and there was
great impatience everywhere to get started with post-war life.
Besides, Herman had gotten married and he insisted,
so he was granted a disability discharge on November 29, 1945.
After his return home, Herman says,
“There were many discharged
servicemen everywhere, all looking
for jobs. I got a job at Camp
Swift working with
German P.O.W.’s under my supervision. When the camp was closed out, I did
vocational training at
under the G.I. Bill, and then worked at several local businesses.
I was with the Marfus Company for about six months,
then worked for Rainhart Company producing laboratory test equipment for
soils and materials.
After that I did some machine work for W.F. Smith
and Son and then in 1952 had been with Modern Supply Company only a few
months when I was called for an interview for a job with the
Two men drove up to my house, interviewed me in my
front yard, and hired me.”
Herman was employed by the university’s
department of Engineering Mechanics at Balcones Research
Center, and later
transferred to the Petroleum Engineering Department on main campus, and
lastly closed out thirty-years with The University when he retired from the
department of Chemical Engineering in 1983.
That career was entirely in research
instrumentation, fabricating equipment used in engineering science, and he
proudly reports having built instruments that NASA had sent to the moon.
Meanwhile during those years, Herman and Edith had a
family of four sons;
James Ray who had served in the Navy,
Ronald Edwin of Cedar Creek, Terry Joe a Marine
Corps Vietnam veteran coping with Agent Orange related conditions, and
Philip Randal of Cedar Creek. After having been married for over 60 years,
Edith passed away in 2006.
Their eldest son James is also deceased.
After his disability discharge for the wounds to
both his legs, Herman has had to deal with limited mobility and the pain
associated with it for all the years since, and it never gets any better.
At this writing, he is scheduled for major surgery
on his right knee.
Herman joined the Military Order of the Purple Heart
as a life member shortly after Chapter 1919 was chartered and throughout the
chapter’s early years Herman and Edith had regularly attended meetings
In recent years he is most frequently seen at our breakfast get
togethers. This month
PATRIOT BULLETIN proudly salutes Patriot Herman