He graduated from the United States. Naval Academy in 1934 and completed naval aviation training in 1937.
Posted to the Philippines, he was located there when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor to begin United States involvement in World World War World War II He then became the personal pilot of Admiral Ernest King, then Chief of Naval Operations. Upon returning to the Pacific Theater in 1943, he took command of an air squadron based on the United States Ship Intrepid. After the war, he served stints as a test pilot, then took command of the carrier United States Ship Saratoga in 1958.
He later commanded Carrier Division Four, then moved to a staff position at the Strategic Plans Division in Washington District of Columbia. In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson selected him ahead of 72 more senior rear admirals for promotion and command of the United States Seventh Fleet, then operating off Vietnam and heavily involved in United States operations there.
Hyland commanded the fleet for nearly 2 years before being promoted again and taking command of the entire Pacific Fleet in 1967, a four star billet. He played a central role, not only in ongoing operations in Vietnam, but also in two major incidents during this time: the fallout of the capture of the United States Ship Pueblo by North of Korea, and the fatal accident and fire on the United States Ship Enterprise.
Admiral Hyland retired on January 1, 1971. In retirement, he maintained an interest in naval aviation, served in business directorships, and settled in Honolulu.