Hayden named Coweta's Veteran of the Year
By ALEX MCRAE
Newnan’s Mel Hayden has been selected as Coweta County’s 2012 Veteran of the Year.
Hayden will be recognized at community Veterans Day Services on Monday at 11 a.m. at the Veterans Plaza in the Newnan city park at the intersection of Temple Avenue and Jackson Street.
Hayden was born in Virginia and grew up on a cotton mill village in South Carolina where he worked full-time in the weave room of a mill during his last two years of high school. He attended Clemson College for one year before enlisting in the U.S. Army where he spent the next 20 years.
His five years of enlisted service included duty as a military policeman and photo lab technician/photographer with the U.S. Army Security Agency. Following completion of Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Ga., and Airborne and Ranger schools, he trained recruits at Fort Jackson, S.C.
Hayden completed Special Forces training in 1961 before serving three tours of duty in Vietnam. Between Vietnam tours, Hayden served with the 8th Special Forces Group in Panama, including duty in the Dominican Republic. A highlight of this tour was his role in supporting operations in Bolivia that resulted in the neutralization of a guerrilla movement there and the demise of Che Guevara.
Hayden retired at the U.S. Army Special Warfare Center, Fort Bragg, N.C., in 1974 with the rank of major.
Hayden spent the next 20 years in the U.S. Civil Service and attained the grade level of GS-13 before retiring in 1995.
Hayden has a bachelor in business administration, a master’s degree in adult education, a specialist degree in career development and a Ph.D. in human resource development from Georgia State University.
During his doctoral program he was inducted into Phi Delta Kappa Fraternity, an International honor society and professional association for educators.
Hayden joined the Kiwanis Club of White Oak Golden K, Newnan in February 1996. He has served once as club vice president and twice as club president-elect and president. He has served as public relations chair, membership chair, bulletin editor, webmaster of the club website, and twice as a member of the Board of Directors.
Additionally, in 2004-05 he served as lieutenant governor, Division 23 of the Georgia District of Kiwanis, which required him to provide leadership and service to 11 Kiwanis Clubs in the Fayette, Coweta and South Fulton County areas.
Hayden is a Life Member of Newnan Post 27 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Alvin Hugh Harris/Post 57 of the American Legion.
Hayden served on the organizing/study committee that resulted in the formation of CLICK — Certified Literate is Coweta’s Key. He served as the first executive director of CLICK from 1998-2002, during which time great progress was made toward achieving Certified Literate Community status.
In recent years, Hayden has participated in the Student-Vet Connect program with Newnan High School students. In addition, he has made presentations about his Army service to the Vietnam History classes of teacher Steve Quesinberry at Newnan High.
For 19 years, Hayden and his wife, Lucy, have provided a monetary award of $1,000 annually to a deserving doctoral student in the College of Education at Georgia State University. Their Hayden-Waltz Doctoral Dissertation Award has assisted 19 talented and worthy graduate level students to complete requirements for their Ph.D.