Lester Hayton Centennial Memorial planned Sunday
A centennial memorial is planned for Private First Class Lester Dean Hayton this weekend.
Brad Pearce, who is coordinating the event, said there’s a limited amount he found about Hayton’s pre-war life. Pearce found that Hatyon moved the Palouse at age 21 from what is now Milton-Freewater, Ore., with his parents and two brothers.
“The family bought a small farm just south of town, to which they made many improvements,” Pearce said. “He was active in the Christian Church and Sunday School in Palouse.”
“Most of his biography was not surprising, as his was really the classic World War I story about a strapping young farmer who died in France,” he said.
Hayton had a role in a historic battle and Pearce said there’s much more information about Hayton because the First Division and 16th Infantry Regiment are well known.
“The Battle of Chateau Thierry where he went missing is considered the turning point in WWI, and was the beginning of 100 days of gains which led to the Armistice,” he added.
Pearce said something that surprised him was the time it took for the news of Hayton’s death to get to his parents. Hayton was a Palouse Resident who went Missing in Action during the Battle of Chateau-Thierry in World War I on July 20, 1918. News of his death reached Palouse on July 18, 1919. Lester Hayton’s remains have never been recovered, and he remains Missing in Action.
This event is part of the Palouse Ice Cream Social which is ran by the Palouse Community Center. They and other organizations have been very helpful, including the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post taking part in the ceremony. But I am the sole planner of the ceremony itself.
Pearce said he had been interested in Lester Hayton since he found out as an adult the park was actually named the Hayton-Greene Park and not the more commonly known Palouse Park.
“I am generally interested in American history and literature from 1865-1945, it’s kind of an ignored era in our history,” he said.
“My friend who is doing the singing, Cody Wendt, is quite impressive, with a classic booming baritone voice,” Pearce concluded. The Memorial Service could include a hymn or songs that Hayton may have liked.
Private First Class Lester Dean Hayton Centennial Memorial is at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Hayton-Greene Park in Palouse during the Ice Cream Social.
For further information or inquiries, visit the Facebook event page or contact Pearce at email@example.com.
Boomerang Writer Stephanie Herbert contributed to this report.