Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Kiyoshi 'Ken' Ikeda was born to Manzo and Shizue Shimimamura Ikeda in Honolulu, HI on April 28, 1930. Ken's parents immigrated from Kumamoto Ken, Japan, on the Island of Kyushu, not far from Nagasaki. Ken graduated from Honolulu's Farrington High School in 1948 and attended the University of Hawaii for one year. On October 20, 1949, he enlisted in the Army in the RA unassigned category. When Hawaii was still a United States territory, Ken received an appointment to West Point from Delegate Joseph R. Farrington, the son of a former Territorial Governor of Hawaii. Ken entered the USMA Preparatory School at Stewart AFB, Newburgh, NY in the fall of 1950. During his tour of duty at the Prep School, he attained the rank of private first class. On July 3, 1951, Ken reported to West Point as a member of the Class of 1955.
At 5 feet 6 inches, Ken was assigned to Company M-l in South Area. At that time, cadets were assigned to companies based on their height in order to facilitate a smooth even appearance at parades. The cadets of Company M-l took great pride in being 'runts,' and Ken fit in well. He had a keen sense of humor and enjoyed nothing more than finding a way to laugh at himself. In so doing he made others laugh and, as a result, was quite popular with his classmates. Ken spoke often of his high school sweetheart, Jane Nishimura. When he announced that he and Jane were engaged, he added that the English translation of partnering Ikeda with Nishimura was 'outhouse on hill.' As a cadet, Ken was active in the Camera Club, Pistol Club, and the Russian Club. He was a cow corporal and as a First Classman was a platoon sergeant. Ken had no problem with West Point's academics, graduating in the upper quarter of his class. He had wanted to go Air Force, but he failed the qualifying eye exam and settled for his second choice, Field Artillery.
Following the normal branch assignments for the first four years of commissioned service, Ken joined the faculty of the Artillery and Missile School at Fort Sill, OK in 1959 for a three-year tour. In 1962, he attended the Field Artillery Advanced Officer Course. During his attendance at the advanced course, Ken put in for a transfer to the Finance Corps. After graduating in 1963, he spent one year as a staff officer with 1st Corps Group prior to being posted to Hawaii, where from 1963 to 1964 he served as battery commander of the 13th Artillery. For his accomplishments as a battery commander, Ken received the Army Commendation Medal.
With the branch transfer approved, Ken served as the finance officer, U.S. Army Reserve, Hawaii, from 1965 to 1966. His next posting was to the Naval Post Graduate School from 1966 to 1968, and that school was followed by his assignment to the Finance School's staff and faculty for one year at Fort Benjamin Harrison near Indianapolis, IN. Ken was next assigned to Headquarters, Combat Development Command at Fort Belvoir, VA for one year prior to being posted to Vietnam in 1970, where he served as the 4th Division's Finance Officer at Camp Enari near Pleiku in Vietnam's Central Highlands. For his accomplishments in that position, Ken was awarded the Bronze Star. Returning Stateside in 1971, Ken was again assigned to the Combat Development Command, this time in the Personnel and Administration Division. Ken retired in 1973 after 20 years of service: two as an enlisted man and 18 as an officer. At his retirement ceremony, Ken was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.
During their 18 years of marriage as an Army husband and wife, Ken and Jane were blessed with three children: Robert, Debra, and Mary. For their civilian home, Ken and Jane chose Indianapolis. Ken's initial civilian employment was as a systems analyst for the Indiana Department of Highways. Jane joined Ken in the civilian workforce as warranty clerk for a distributing company. In later years, Ken became active in investment management. During his years in Indianapolis, Ken was a frequent volunteer at the Roudebush VA Hospital. Ken lost his beloved Jane in 2007. Following a memorial service in Indianapolis, Ken accompanied her remains to Honolulu, where, after a Honolulu memorial service, she was laid to rest in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. A scant few years later, Ken developed Parkinson's. In 2013 the disease overcame him, and Ken joined Jane at the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. Aloha, and rest in peace old friend.
- M-1 Companymate
TAPS Memorial Article