MARINA, CA – After years of failing respiratory health, Ken quietly slipped away in his sleep at home and joined the great spirits in the sky. Born and raised in Coffeyville, Kansas, Ken enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1967. After tours in Germany and Korea he was sent to Vietnam. As a combat infantryman in Vietnam he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and also received the "Valor" Bronze Star for heroism in volunteering for a combat insertion, then treating and evacuating a seriously wounded soldier in a prolonged firefight with the enemy. |
Following his Vietnam tour of duty Ken was assigned to Fort Ord where he graduated from Drill Sergeants School. In 1972 after reluctantly training boot camp draftees and recruits for two years, Ken was discharged due to officially declaring himself a conscientious objector to the war in Vietnam (the first Drill Sergeant at Fort Ord ever to do so and get an Honorable Discharge).
Along with the Bronze Star for heroism, Ken received the Combat Infantry Badge, the Air Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal and the Drill Sergeants Badge.
In the 1970s Ken worked for Seaside's Public Works and he was a Marina Public Works Commissioner from 2006 to 2010. In the meantime, his freewheeling spirit was attracted to the arts, craftsmanship and the simple life. He received an Associate's Degree in Graphic Arts from MPC while around Monterey he was known as a bicycle mechanic, sometime taxi driver and a long-distance runner. Ken was a Charter Member of the Big Sur Marathon (he ran the first one).
When the Gulf War broke out in 1990 the haunting ghosts of Vietnam revisited Ken with frequency. Cognitively and consciously unable to accept the U.S. military's invasion into another distant foreign country, Ken joined other war veterans in open protests in the streets of Monterey and San Francisco. During this time the former combat hardened drill sergeant became a founding member of the Veterans for Peace Chapter of Monterey County.
Ken was proud of his distant Native American heritage. In 1992, as a member of the Monterey Bay American Indian Council, he was instrumental in organizing the Honoring of the Youth Pow Wow at Custom House Plaza.
Ken was honest and passionate about his beliefs. He wrote two books and learned to live with his PTSD the best he could. In the last 30 years of his life he found clean living and sobriety as a friend of Bill's.
Predeceased by his father and one brother, he is survived by family members throughout Kansas/Oklahoma/Arizona: his mother, four brothers, three sisters, two daughters, four grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
He is also survived by his wife, Justina and her son, Zander of Marina and daughter of the heart, Cheryl Robinson (Scott) and her children, James and Kaylyn of Elkhorn.
Memorial services are planned for 12:00 noon on Saturday, March 22, 2014 in Seaside, California and later this year in Coffeyville. For information or to leave online condolences, please visit www.seasidefunerals.com.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent in Ken's name to Veterans For Peace of Monterey County, c/o Phil Butler, 1330 Castro Court, Monterey, CA 93940.
Published in The Monterey Herald on Mar. 8, 2014