SPRINGFIELD -- The Buffalo Grove man who led the Illinois National Guard efforts after Hurricane Katrina has been named its No. 2 officer.
Assistant Adjutant General Richard J. Hayes was appointed to the post by Gov. Pat Quinn and sworn in this week. He says a lifetime of military experience has led to the job but said he learned from his experience in New Orleans to never stop trying to prepare.
"I never accept that we're prepared," he said.
Hayes led the Illinois National Guard battalion assigned to do security work in New Orleans, trying to keep people out of the city after the 2005 hurricane because it was so dangerous. That included having to turn away people trying to get back to their homes.
"It was really tough because they want to get in, and you're telling them 'no,'" he said.
Hayes has 26 years of Army service and started with the Illinois National Guard in 1989. He said he was inspired to enter the military by his father, also an Army veteran, who died earlier this year.
"He at least had the privilege of knowing I'd been asked when he passed," Hayes said of the new job.
He works as an executive at Patrick Engineering in Lisle but will move to Springfield to handle his new responsibilities. Among other things, Hayes will have a major role in overseeing the Illinois National Guard's domestic activities.
"General Hayes' acumen as a businessman will be a great benefit to the Illinois National Guard as we continue to get stronger despite limited finances," Adjutant General Daniel M. Krumrei said in a statement.
Illinois National Guard has 13,000 soldiers deployed both overseas and for help during domestic emergencies, such as in the aftermath of tornadoes or blizzards.
Hayes said congressional cuts to military spending could affect how the National Guard operates, and overseeing resulting changes could be part of his new role.
"We're a great value to the American taxpayer," Hayes said.
Hayes' service has included peacekeeping missions in Kosovo and a couple years in the 1980s in the Kansas National Guard.