Lieutenant General George Price Hays

Lt. Gen. George P. Hays

George Price Hays was born on September 27, 1892, in China, where his parents worked as Presbyterian missionaries. When he was nine years old, his family returned to the United States, and his father became pastor of the Presbyterian Church in EI Reno. After graduating from EI Reno High School and attending Oklahoma A&M College, he volunteered for military service shortly after our nation entered World War I.

He was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1917, and by July 14, 1918, was a first lieutenant serving in France with the 10th Field Artillery, 3rd Division. On that day, during the Second Battle of the Marne near Greves Farm, his unit came under a heavy German artillery barrage and the communication lines were destroyed.

Despite the intense fire, Hays rode on horseback between his unit, the command post, and two French batteries for the rest of that day and the next. Although he was severely wounded and had seven horses shot out from under him, his efforts contributed to the halt of the German advance. For these actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor the next year, in 1919.

Tenth Mountain Division General George P. Hays points to a map of Europe as General Robinson E. Duff looks on at Campo Tizzoro, Italy.

He commanded the 99th Field Artillery (Pack) from 1940 to 1941; among his subordinates was Captain William Orlando Darby, who went on to found the U.S. Army Rangers. After the United States’ entry into World War II, Hays participated in the Battle of Monte Cassino in early 1944. He commanded the 2nd Infantry Division’s artillery on Omaha Beach during the invasion of Normandy in June of that year.

In late November 1944, after returning to the U.S., Hays took over the 10th Mountain Division when its previous commander fell ill. After training, the division arrived in Italy in January and fought throughout the spring offensive. On April 24, 1945, William Darby was assigned to the division as Hays’ assistant commander; he was killed in action six days later. After the end of the war in Europe, Hays became High Commissioner for the US Occupation Zone in Germany from 1949, and was placed in charge of the occupation forces in Austria from 1952. He retired from the military in 1953, having reached the rank of lieutenant general.

Hays died August 7, 1978. He has been inducted into the OSU Alumni Hall of Fame, and in the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame in 2006.


June 1945. General Hays congratulates first GI to cross highway 9, Tenth Mountain Division Pfc. Basil L. Lesmeister, from Company A of the 86th Regiment.

Medal of Honor Citation

  • Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, United States Army, 10th Field Artillery, 3d Division.
  • Place and date: Near Greves Farm, France, 14-July 15, 1918.
  • Entered service at: Okarche, Oklahoma.
  • Born: September 27, 1892, China.
  • General Orders No.34. War Department, 1919.

At the very outset of the unprecedented artillery bombardment by the enemy, his line of communication was destroyed beyond repair. Despite the hazard attached to the mission of runner, he immediately set out to establish contact with the neighboring post of command and further establish liaison with 2 French batteries, visiting their position so frequently that he was mainly responsible for the accurate fire therefrom. While thus engaged, 7 horses were shot under him and he was severely wounded. His activity under most severe fire was an important factor in checking the advance of the enemy.




OSU Air Force ROTC Grads Serve in War and Peace

Captain Neil Bynum

In its long history, Oklahoma State University’s Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Program (ROTC) has produced many great leaders including some who were POWs in North Vietnam and one who was missing in action but will never be forgotten.

The OSU ROTC program and alumni and other ROTC programs in Oklahoma will be inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame on Oct. 21 at the Embassy Suites Hilton in Norman. During the banquet, a ceremony will be held to recognize and remember America’s Prisoners of Wars and those listed as Missing in Action (MIAs). A missing man table will be set up with six empty chairs representing Americans from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard and civilians who were or are missing. Captain Neil Stanley “Cherokee” Bynum, a native of Vian, is OSU’s MIA.

He was a Weapons System Operator riding in the back seat of a plane piloted by Captain Gray Warren on Oct. 26, 1969. The aircraft crashed. Gray was reclassified from MIA to killed in action on Oct. 26th. Bynum was continued in MIA status until May 13, 1976, when the Secretary of the Air Force approved a “Presumptive Finding” of death.

The former ROTC graduates who were POWs are: Lt. Col. William Schwertfeger, who was born in Enid and grew up in Medford; and Col. William H. “Bill” Talley, who was born in Sayre. One other former POW is Lt. Col. Dick Francis, who graduated from OSU but was not in ROTC.

Lt. Col. William Schwertfeger
Col William H Talley
Col. William Talley
Lt. Col. Dick Francis

Schwertfeger received three Silver Stars. One was for leading an air strike force deep into hostile territory Feb. 16, 1972. He flew through anti-aircraft fire for more than two hours, locating targets and directing air strikes. He was honored in 2015 as OSU Alumni of the Year. He also is being honored this month as 2017 Air Force ROTC Alumni of the year.

Talley flew 151 combat missions in Vietnam. On May 11, 1972, he was forced to eject over enemy territory. He was a POW for 322 days before repatriation on March 28, 1973.

Talley was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses for Valor. One was for suppressing enemy surface-to-air missile sites and radar controlled antiaircraft artillery on April 21, 1972. He repeatedly attacked the sites to protect an American air strike force. He remained in the area after he used all his ammunition.

Francis was shot down over North Vietnam on May 11, 1972, and held prisoner for 275 days. Francis was awarded The Silver Star for leading a flight on a special combat mission over Hanoi, North Vietnam.

Other notable OSU ROTC graduates are Maj. Gen. S.T. Ayers and Ray Booker.

Maj. Gen. S. T. Ayers

Ayers graduated from Arkansas Polytechnic University in 1942 and Oklahoma A&M(now OSU) in 1951. He is one of the people who helped found the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame, said Maj. Gen. Douglas O. Dollar, who is a founder of the organization.

Ayers enlisted in the Air Force Reserve in 1943 and was called to active duty in 1944.He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1950. He served as mobilization assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics and Engineering at the Pentagon. He also served as a mobilization assistant for to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics and Engineering at the Pentagon. He also had a career in petroleum geology.

Ray Booker

Booker graduated from Oklahoma A&M in 1957 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He is founder of Aeromet, Inc. and Aviation Technologies in Tulsa. Now retired, he was a certified Airline Transport Pilot. He was a cadet in Air Force ROTC at OSU and was inducted into the OSU Alumni Hall of Fame in 2012. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant and attended Pennsylvania State University where he received a master’s degree in 1962 and a Ph.D., both in meteorology.


James Robert “Bob” Kalsu

An item from Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund:

Today we honor James Robert “Bob” Kalsu of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who fell on this day in 1970.

BobBob was an All-American offensive lineman at the The University of Oklahoma — and an eighth-round pick of the Buffalo Bills. He was voted the team’s top rookie following the 1968 season. Bob began fulfilling his ROTC obligation with the United States Army and in November 1969, he received his orders to go to Vietnam. He was killed in a mortar attack, leaving behind a wife and daughter. His son was born two days after he was killed in action.

Never forget this hero.

Army General Graduated from UCO’s ROTC program

Brig. Gen. Alicia A. Tate-Nadeau

EDMOND — For 47 years, the University of Central Oklahoma has produced military leaders through the Reserve Officer Training Corps, including a woman who is a brigadier general and an inductee in the inaugural class of the ROTC Hall of Fame at Fort Knox, Ky.

Brig. Gen. Alicia A. Tate-Nadeau, an Enid native and graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma, was commissioned through the ROTC program as an Army lieutenant in 1986. She currently is assistant adjutant general in the Illinois National Guard.

She is one of five Oklahomans inducted June 10 into the national ROTC Hall of Fame. The others are H.E. Gene Rainbolt, an Oklahoma banker from Oklahoma City and 1952 University of Oklahoma ROTC graduate; Maj. Gen. Douglas O. Dollar, Stillwater, a 1967 Oklahoma State University ROTC graduate; Col. Henry O. Tuell III, a 1968 ROTC graduate of OU; and OSU President Burns Hargis, a 1970 ROTC graduate of OSU.

UCO’s ROTC program has been commissioning between 12 to 15 ROTC cadets annually, said Daryl Shryock, human resources administrator for the military science (ROTC) department since 2000. He has more than 28 years of military experience as a commissioned officer.

Like many colleges and universities, UCO offers students at other area universities the opportunity to be in the ROTC program.

Schools whose students can attend ROTC classes at UCO include Oklahoma City University, Southern Nazarene University, Langston University, Oklahoma Christian University and Southwestern Christian University.

Lt. Meagan Green is a Southern Nazarene University graduate who attended ROTC at UCO where she received her commission.

Students like herself commuted to UCO for the ROTC classes, she said.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of ROTC in America and Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame will honor ROTC programs and their alumni at the Military Hall of Fame banquet Oct. 21 at Embassy Suites in Norman.

Maj. Gen. Dollar, founder of the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame, has established a website for ROTC alumni to obtain more information and register to be recognized for their services.


Rear Admiral Greg Slavonic

untitledMore than 80 graduates from Oklahoma State University have served as generals and admirals in the military service since World War I, but retired Rear Admiral Greg Slavonic (’71) could be the first to publish the leadership insights he learned along the way in a book titled Profiles in Patriotic Leadership.

Considering the ethical failures in the banking industry, Wall Street and corporate misdeeds, Slavonic contends that leadership principles are not being taught the way they are in the armed forces, and his 34 years there have provided a wealth of practical information.

“The need for leadership has never been more important than it is today,” said Slavonic. “I have been fortunate to serve under many good leaders in the military who have a special perspective on how to lead effectively. That’s what I’ve tried to capture in this book.”

Slavonic’s book includes insights from a list of highly honored and decorated military leaders and war heroes who, as he puts it, “…know what it takes to lead and succeed and possess a philosophy of leadership that is critical to success in life. This book was a labor of love that was five years in the making, but it was a passion I had,” said Slavonic. “I wanted to at least get on paper some of my thoughts and the thoughts of those I felt were great leaders.”

Most of OSU’s highest ranking officers are from the Army and Air Force because of its widely-recognized ROTC programs on campus for those military branches, but Slavonic enlisted in the Navy after graduation. He insists he never had any plans to become a high-ranking officer, and admits he chose the Navy so he wouldn’t have to go into the Army, adding “I am not a ‘camper’.” But that doesn’t mean he’s not up for a good workout, “I have climbed three 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado, which offered quite a view of the world.”

profilesThe admiral’s early view of leadership started to take shape when he was assigned to work 12-hour days in the mess hall of the aircraft carrier USS Constellation, which was stationed off the coast of Vietnam in the Tonkin Gulf.

“Finding myself on the ship’s mess decks with a college degree was not something I thought I was going to have to do, but my immediate superior back then knew it would help me someday, and it did. It was an eye-opening experience that shaped me as an individual and helped me move forward.”

Slavonic, who rose from seaman recruit to rear admiral, ultimately served as the Navy’s deputy to the chief of information in Washington D.C. and director of public affairs (Navy Reserve). He was also the highest-ranking public affairs officer to serve in Iraq during Operation Enduring Freedom. Slavonic served on General Norman Schwarzkopf’s communications team when he was deployed to Iraq in the 1990s for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Slavonic is dedicated to spending time speaking to organizations on the importance of leadership and sharing his military experiences. He currently works for a Washington D.C. defense contractor managing several Navy contracts.

Profiles in Patriotic Leadership is available at, and Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City. If you would like to contact Slavonic, go to

Captain Charles Scheffel

charles_scheffel_zps40343d69When Charles Scheffel was a youngster in Enid during the Great Depression, he was destined to become a soldier, but he didn’t know it yet.

Scheffel’s father arrived in America from Germany after stowing away on a German boat. He then joined the U.S. Army during the Spanish American War.

Scheffel was born in 1919. His father died in 1930.The times were tough, and Scheffel worked at an aunt’s farm to help out his family.

An athlete, Scheffel was good in tennis, football, baseball and basketball, which was his best sport and would help get him into college. Legendary basketball Coach Henry Iba offered him a full athletic scholarship.

In Crack and Thump, a book written by Scheffel with Barry Basden, Scheffel discussed his entry into the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), his career in World War II, and gave readers a view of combat.

crackandthumpScheffel had no intention of taking anything more than the mandatory ROTC courses, he said. ROTC turned out to help him not only to get his degree at OSU but to be an infantry leader in combat. He took basic ROTC three times a week. America had the draft and a student could be drafted from college unless he was in ROTC.

Scheffel studied to go into banking, but World War II changed everything and he became a combat infantry leader and a decorated infantry officer fighting in North Africa, Sicily and Europe ,with his final stop in Lammersdorf, Germany, where he was severely wounded.

He was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, two Purple Hearts, the Bronze Star, the Silver Star and the French Croix de Guerre. He was medically retired from the Army as a Captain in 1946.

Scheffel would go into the insurance business in Oklahoma City. He lived in Britton on the north side of Oklahoma City. Elected to the Britton City Council, he was instrumental in bringing to a vote the annexation of Britton to Oklahoma City.

Scheffel died June 24, 2011, in San Antonio, Texas, where he had been living at the time.

Click image and view a video of Scheffel recalling his time as an infantry officer. [Be patient with the commercial.]