Joseph Jolly Haydon, Jr. – Major, United States Army

Joseph Jolly Haydon Jr., 40, an Army Special Forces Major and foreign-area officer based in sub-Saharan Africa, died October 22, 2005, in an airplane crash near Lagos, Nigeria. He was the lone American aboard a Nigerian commercial flight in which 117 people were killed.


Major Haydon, who was returning from a meeting in Germany at the time of his death, was the head of the Office of Defense Cooperation at the U.S. mission in Abuja, Nigeria. He was responsible for defense matters between the United States and the Nigerian military. He was recognized as an authority on Africa and was responsible for significant civil works projects benefiting the Nigerian people.

Major Haydon was born in Huntsville, Alabama, and as a member of a military family lived at numerous Army posts, including Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, West Point, New York, and the Marshall Islands. He attended public schools in Arlington and Fairfax counties and was a 1983 graduate of Oakton High School.

After his graduation from The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1987, he was commissioned in the Army and served in a tank battalion in Germany. He joined the Special Forces in 1992. He received a master's degree in military studies from the American Military University in Manassas in 2000.

In 1996, he left the Army and spent three years as a military adviser in the United Arab Emirates. He worked in real estate in Williamsburg for a year before rejoining the Army in 2000.

In addition to his military career, Major Haydon enjoyed an adventurous life. He ran with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, rafted the Zambezi River in Africa and traveled extensively with his family throughout Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Joseph Jolly Haydon Jr. was an expert on Africa.

Survivors include his wife of nine years, Maria Jesus Alonso Haydon, and two children, Forrest Alonso Haydon and Carmela Alonso Haydon, all of Abuja; his parents, retired Army Lieutenant Colonel. Joseph Jolly Haydon and Coreen Haydon of Fredericksburg; a brother; and a sister.

Major Haydon will be buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery on 4 January 2006.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005
U.S. Joins Investigation of Nigerian Crash that Kills Special Forces Officer

The United States has asked to assist Nigeria in the investigation of the Saturday airplane crash that killed 117 people, including a U.S Special Forces major and several senior security officials of the sub-regional ECOWAS group. The American official has been identified as Major Joe Haydon, a U.S. Army Special Forces officer who was arriving in Nigeria to head the office of Defense Cooperation in Nigeria. Police and other investigators have not ruled out the possibility of sabotage, given the number of foreigners and senior ECOWAS people aboard.

The cause of the crash remains a mystery. Sources in Nigeria said the flight also carried several people who were very close to president Obasanjo, at a time when he is under increasing pressure, raising suspicions the accident may not have been accidental. The U.S. interest may indicate concern that this was the case.

The number of suspects for an act of sabotage is long in Nigeria. Disgruntled former military officials arming local militias, transnational criminal networks that are beginning to feel pressured or who want a bigger share of the petroleum theft market, radical Islamists, both Shi'ite and Sunni, and Charles Taylor, could all benefit from increasing the chaos and uncertainty in Nigeria. It may not be anything more than bad luck or lousy maintenence, although the Bellveiw aircraft had just undergone a complete inspection. Or it may be something that signals a further slide into chaos in Nigeria.

October 24, 2005:

LISSA, Nigeria – Investigators searched the still-smoldering wreckage of a jetliner that slammed into the Nigerian bush, seeking flight-data recorders and other clues Monday to the cause of the crash that killed all 117 people aboard. After much confusion about whether anyone had survived in the immediate aftermath of the Saturday evening crash, Nigerian officials confirmed Monday that all passengers and crew were dead.

“We can say all the people on board the aircraft perished,” Information Minister Frank Nweke Jr. told state radio.

Fidelis Onyenyiri, chief of the National Civil Aviation Authority, said the crash appeared to be an accident.

“The weather was not too bad, but there was lightning, and an airplane struck by lightning could lose total control,” Onyenyiri told reporters on Sunday. “So there is a likelihood of a natural cause.”

The impact appeared to cause the plane's virtual disintegration. Small bits of fuselage, human flesh and clothing were strewn in nearby trees. A hand and leg lay on the ground. No identifiable bodies could be seen but the smell of death hung in the air.

Acrid smoke still curled from the eight-yard-deep pit as investigators picked through wreckage, looking for flight-data recorders – the so-called black boxes, which are actually often blaze orange for easier identification.

“We are here to secure the site to enable the investigators to do their work. They're trying to find the black boxes so we can determine the cause of the crash,” said one member of Nigeria's security forces at the scene. He asked not to be identified because he wasn't authorized to speak to reporters.

Military helicopters first spotted the smoldering wreckage of the Nigerian-run Bellview jet on Sunday morning, and search teams that visited the site afterward found no survivors, said Onyenyiri.

The plane lost contact with the Lagos control tower five minutes after taking off from Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos at 8:45 p.m. on Saturday, said Jide Ibinola, a spokesman for the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria. State radio said pilots issued a distress call before the plane disappeared from radar.

The plane was headed to the capital, Abuja, on what was supposed to have been a 50-minute flight, a route popular among Nigerians and expatriates.

The nationalities of those aboard were not immediately known, but most were believed to be Nigerians. State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said one American aboard the flight had been killed, but he did not identify the person.

Airline officials said 117 people were on board – 111 passengers and six crew members.

Nigeria announced a three-day, nationwide mourning period for victims of the Bellview Airlines Boeing 737-200, which plowed a deep crater into the ground near Lissa shortly after take off from Lagos airport, 30 miles to the south.

Bellview, one of about a dozen local airlines plying Nigeria's skies, is a privately owned Nigerian company that operates a fleet of mostly Boeing 737s on internal routes and throughout West Africa, as well as London. Bellview first began flying about 10 years ago, and this was the company's first crash.

Many consider Bellview to be among the most reliable of the airlines shuttling between Nigeria's often-chaotic regional airports, which can resemble bus depots where crowds battle for seats on planes.



  • DATE OF BIRTH: 12/14/1964
  • DATE OF DEATH: 10/22/2005

Read our general and most popular articles

Leave a Comment