About Kenneth D. Bailey Academy
||Kenneth D. Bailey
Named after US Marine Kenneth D Bailey.
Dillon Bailey was truly an exceptional human being. Whatever he did, he
did extraordinary, and whatever he tried, he more than accomplished.
Bailey was by any definition an All-American individual. His passionate
love of country, his relentless desire to succeed, and his impeccable
and unwavering conscience, were all unparalleled. As a student, Bailey
was a diligent scholar, as an athlete, Bailey was hardworking and gifted
talent, as a leader, Bailey commanded respect, as a soldier, Bailey was
valiant and courageous, as a husband, Bailey was faithful and honest,
and as a war hero who gave his own life on the battlefield, Bailey was
decorated with the highest honor of the United States of America, the
Congressional Medal of Honor. By any standard, Kenneth D. Bailey was a
giant among men.
A product of a disciplined, yet loving
family, Bailey was raised in the Oaklawn neighborhood of Danville,
Illinois by his parents Cyrus and Geneva. Altogether, there were 5
Bailey children, Wayne, Gordon, Kenneth, Edith and Ruth. All three
brothers would serve for the armed forces and both sisters would become
When Kenneth entered Danville High School he
involved himself in several activities both in and out of school.
Besides playing football and swimming, Bailey also served as Chairman of
the Athletic committee for the Medley (Danville High School’s
yearbook), was a member of student council, the booster club, the D
Association, the Boy’s Athletic Association, and the Glee Club. In
addition, Bailey also boxed with a group of students who called
themselves the “Rough and Tumble Club” and served as a member of the
National Guard while he was still in high school.
Bailey would go on to attend the University
of Illinois and graduated with a degree in agriculture in 1935. During
his time on campus, Bailey played varsity football for the Illini his
junior and senior years and was a member of the school’s ROTC program
all four years.
After graduating from the U of I, Bailey
promptly entered the Marine Corps as a 2nd Lieutenant. Bailey knew
right away that he wanted to have a career as an armed forces officer.
He quickly worked his way up the ranks of the Marine Corps, first
becoming a captain in the fall of 1941 and was rapidly promoted to Major
after the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. Bailey
assumed command of the elite Raiders Battalion and was said to have
drawn the first Japanese blood during a campaign on the island of
Tulagi, one of the Solomon Islands.
Bailey’s daring leadership of Marines in the
Pacific Theatre continued on later campaigns on the island of
Guadalcanal, another island in the Solomon Islands chain. Stories
detailing Bailey’s heroics on the battlefield are legendary. During one
confrontation, Bailey threw dynamite into a cave housing Japanese
soldiers and radio equipment, killing the soldiers and destroying the
equipment. During another attack, a Japanese soldier stabbed Bailey in
his leg as he was trying to drop a grenade into an enemy pit.
Nevertheless, Bailey’s distraction was enough to allow his company to
seize the enemy and save his own life. Despite his wounds, Bailey went
AWOL from the hospital after less than five weeks from being admitted so
he could rejoin his soldiers in their campaign.
During Bailey’s leadership in defense of
Henderson Field, a critical air base on the island of Guadalcanal,
Bailey was shot twice in the helmet. Despite his head injury, Bailey
ordered his company to hold their ground even though they were severely
outnumbered. Ultimately, Bailey would go on to kill the man who had
shot him in the head in face-to-face combat and successfully lead his
company to defeat their superior enemy.
Major Bailey’s defense of Henderson Field
earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor. As stated by President
Franklin Roosevelt, “His great personal valor while exposed to constant
and merciless enemy fire, and his indomitable fighting spirit inspired
his troops to heights of heroic endeavor which enabled them to repulse
the enemy and hold Henderson Field.”
There are countless examples detailing why
Bailey was a brave soldier but it was his attitude and demeanor that
made him such a revered leader. Even though Bailey was tragically
gunned down by sniper machine gun fire as he was leading his men on a
patrol mission on September 27, 1942, his undying spirit and legacy will
live forever throughout the halls of Kenneth D. Bailey Academy.