ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A beloved World War II Veteran turned 100-years-old on February 2. Family and state leaders gathered at the State Capitol for a special honor to commemorate his life and legacy.
Kenneth (Ken) Bailey looked up as he entered the War Room at the Capitol, peering at the wonder of its grand ceilings for the first time. “First time I’ve ever been in the Capitol. And with all the people and all of you guys here, it’s just wonderful,” he said. “At 100-years-old. Can you imagine? I can’t.”
In November of 1942, Bailey answered the call and joined the Army, serving everywhere from Germany to Holland. On D-Day +6, he was the first to disembark the Landing Ship Tank on Utah Beah in Normandy. He led the charge, even though, admittedly, he couldn’t swim.
“I feel very lucky I came home because a lot of people didn’t come home,” Bailey said. “I just did my job.”
Over 70 years later, Bailey received recognition from Governor Kathy Hochul to know his sacrifice will not be forgotten. DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos read the citation aloud and presented a plaque to Bailey. “Whereas, on behalf of New Yorkers, I commend Kenneth Henry Bailey for his selfless service and sacrifice to our nation,” read a portion of the citation.
This chapter of Bailey’s life came as a surprise to him. After working over forty years at the Orange Ford dealership, he received countless commendations for his service in WWII. In 2015, Bailey received the French Legion of Honor and was knighted to become Sir Kenneth Bailey.
NEWS10’s Stephanie Rivas asked Bailey his advice for living a long and happy life. His response: “Don’t think about the past because that’s over with and the future is, you don’t know what’s that’s going to be either. So live today. Today’s the today.”