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Admiral Hayler From Muncie

In 1992 I received a call from William Hayler asking if Minnetrista would be interested in a donation of photographs, archival material, and artifacts relating to the career of his father, Admiral Robert W. Hayler. Admiral Hayler grew up in Muncie and sounded like an interesting man with an interesting story; of course we were interested.

After Robert Hayler graduated from Muncie High School in 1909 as class president, he entered the United States Naval Academy. He graduated in 1914 and began his thirty-seven year Navy career. Hayler’s first assignment was serving on the USS Georgia in the Mexican Campaign prior to World War I. During the war, Hayler was stationed on the USS Oklahoma in Scapa Flow, Orkeny Islands, Scotland. Between wars, he attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and served  both sea assignments and shore duties.

Portrait of Admiral Robert W. Hayler.

At the start of World War II, Hayler, by then a captain, was placed in command of the Torpedo Station at Alexandria, Virginia. He soon received sea duty and was involved in heavy fighting around Guadalcanal. In 1942, he received a Navy Cross, and in 1943, he received both a Gold Star and a Silver Star. Hayler was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1944. Late in the war, he was ordered to the Navy Department in Washington, DC. Hayler retired as Vice Admiral in 1951 and died in 1980.

In honor of his distinguished career, a U.S. Navy destroyer was christened the USS Hayler on March 2, 1982. After more than twenty years of service, one of the destroyer’s last missions was to perform counter-drug detection. On one deployment, after a high-speed chase, the Hayler stopped the transfer of a large quantity of cocaine. The USS Hayler was decommissioned in August 2003. According to the U.S. Naval document, USS Hayler (DD-997) Ship’s Crest, “The ship’s motto ‘Courageous in Conflict’ exemplifies the ardent professionalism and steadfast leadership that characterized Vice Admiral Hayler’s career….”


The USS Hayler during sea trials in 1983.

Admiral Hayler’s sons, Robert, Jr. and William, were both career Navy officers. Artifacts that they donated to Minnetrista include a portrait of the admiral, full dress epaulets, and captain’s insignia. Archival material includes photographs, diaries kept at various times in his career, correspondence, and information about the USS Hayler. It’s an important collection about a very interesting man from Muncie.


Captain Robert W. Hayler and his older son Robert W. Hayler, Jr., in captain’s cabin of U.S.S. Honolulu.   


Full dress epaulets.

Admiral Hayler’s granddaughters christening the USS Hayler.