Kenneth Edwin Wiley, 94 years old, a decorated WW II veteran, passed away January 1, 2020 at his home. He is survived by his wife, Deane Church Wiley and six daughters, Deborah Fran Wiley, Patti Joy MacLeod, Melissa Sogar, Priscilla Ray Wilson, Sandra Julian and Lisa Van Arnam; ten Grandchildren and four Great Grandchildren.
Ken Wiley was born July 18, 1925 on a farm near Hillsboro, Texas. He was the sixth child of Dora (Thompson) Wiley and Troy Wiley. Kenneth was one of five brothers and two sisters, although the oldest sister, Doris died on birth. The family settled in Itasca TX, a nearby small farming town, before he was four years old. The six surviving children grew up in Itasca and all graduated from Itasca High School during the poverty ridden years of the pre-war 30’s.
When World War II began in 1939, Ken’s brothers, Vic, Joe and Troy Jr all joined the Army Air Corps. Ken was still in high school.
Ken worked with his Dad in building Ft. Hood, Texas and then with the Soil Conservation Service until his father let him join the Coast Guard at 17 years old. The Coast Guard had been given the responsibility of manning the Attack Transports and Amphibious landing ships and craft, necessary to make and support invasions. Ken went to Landing Craft school and then was assigned to an APA Attack Transport as the Cox’n of an LCVP landing craft. From the Attack transport, he spent 20 months within the Japanese perimeter in the Pacific Ocean, making seven major invasions.
After the war, he used the G I bill to go to college; starting at Hillsboro Jr. College, then Texas A & M and finishing his Agricultural Engineering work at Oklahoma State University. He worked for two years for the Department of Agriculture, two years for Bell Helicopter and thirty years for Ling Temco Vought, retiring as Vice President and General Manager . He was involved in the Navy’s Regulus Program and the NASA Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs.
Ken was the team leader in study programs that established the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Range and the purchase and development of Steamboat Springs Ski Resort. He worked as a consultant for about seven years and then established D&K Wiley Enterprises, a private company built around his patent for automated mail sorting utilizing Voice Recognition.
After twelve years he retired again and devoted his time to writing books around his experiences in the mid twentieth century. His first book, LUCKY THIRTEEN was selected as the best book of 2007 by the Heritage Foundation and carries a 4.5 rating with Amazon. He has now published a total of eight books.
Ken works with veterans and was President of The Appalachian High-Country World War II Round Table. He was the Co-host of the TV show VETERAN’S VOICE for ten years and a guest speaker at schools, civic clubs, churches and national museums.
The family will receive friends from 1:00-2:00 P.M. on Sunday, January 5, 2020 at Mountain City Funeral Home with the funeral service to follow at 2:00 P.M. with Ricky Campbell to officiate. Kenneth will be laid to rest on Monday January 6, 2020 at 1:00 P.M. at Mountain Home National Cemetery with Military Honors to be accorded by the Johnson County Honor Guard.