JOHN "MIKE" HAYDEN was born in Atwood Kansas. He received his bachelor's degree in wildlife conservatory from Kansas State University and a master's degree in biology from Fort Hays State University. As an infrantry company commander for the U.S. Army, Governor Hayden spent 13 months in Vietnam, where he received the Soldier's Medal, two bronze Stars, and the Army Commendation Medal. He began his carrer in public service as a state representative, serving from 1972 to 1986. In 1983 and 1985, he was elected speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives. His legislative career was highlighted by numerous conservation and environmental achievements. Elected governor in 1986, Hayden improved the fiscal condition of the state; in 1988, Kansas was one of the top three states in reducing state taxes. His other administrative priorities included conservation of the state's natural resources, rural community preservation, and efforts to combat drug and alcohol abuse. In November 1988, Governor Hayden was elected chair of the Republican Governors Association.