About Kenneth D. Bailey Academy

     
  Military picture of Kenneth D Bailey  
     
  Kenneth D. Bailey  
     

Named after US Marine Kenneth D Bailey.

Kenneth 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 teachers.

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.

Written by
Parker Sands