Even in retirement, the military was prominent in Haywood Clayton Rogers’ life.
“The military was about the most important thing in his life next to us and my mama,” said Clay Rogers about his father who died in a car crash Monday night.
The elder Rogers spent 25 years in the armed services, serving as a mine sweeper while in the Navy during the Vietnam War and as a military police officer in the Army, including during Desert Storm.
“Probably the most important memory I have was when my unit was heading back for the states from the first Gulf War and we’d spend a couple weeks at Khobar Towers cleaning our gear and such,” Clay Rogers said. “When my unit came through, he came and got me. We took a picture together in front of the Persian Gulf.”
Rocky Mount police said Haywood Rogers was driving Monday on the 300 block of Airport Road night when he ran off the road before over correcting and driving off the other side of the road. Gary Williams saw Rogers’ 1997 Chevrolet S10 crashed into a ditch in front of the Rocky Mount Shrine Club.
Williams said Rogers was leaning against the passenger-side window of the truck, so he had a friend call 911 again to tell officials the driver had been injured.
“Almost instantly after he hung up the phone, we heard the sirens in the distance,” Williams said. “Then everyone in Rocky Mount – all the firefighters and police – showed up.”
A Nash General Hospital nurse called Clay Rogers at work to tell him his father had died while en route to the hospital. Airport Road was shut down for about an hour while crews investigated the wreck.
Clay Rogers said his family is from Hobgood, but his father had lived in Rocky Mount for several years. His wife of 39 years, Regina Rogers, preceded him in death. The couple had two children and four grandchildren.
“He was a good-hearted man who’d give you the shirt off his back,” Clay Rogers said. “He was a great dad who worked hard to provide for us. He worked two or three jobs at a time to give us what we wanted.”
After retiring from the Army in the early 1990s, Haywood Rogers worked as a carpenter and did maintenance for local companies.
The elder Rogers also was a lifetime member of the Tarboro post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a member of the Nashville American Legion and volunteered to serve at military funerals.
“He truly enjoyed serving his country,” Clay Rogers said. “It was really important to him.”