Paint scheme chosen for Vintage Fighters FG-1D Corsair BuNo. 67070
The following biographical data is from "The Skull and Crossbones Squadron, VF-17 in World War II" by Lee Cook
Ira Cassius Kepford was born in Harvey, Illinois, on May 29, 1919, son of George Raymond and Emma McLaughlin Kepford. His family moved to Muskegon, Michigan, shortly after he was born. An all-around athlete at Muskegon High School from 1935-1937, he capped his prep career by being named an All-State back in his senior year. He enrolled at Northwestern University in 1938 to study for a dentistry career.
Kepford was a key figure in a star backfield at Northwestern. He enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve on August 18, 1941, and was honorably discharged on April 29, 1942, to accept appointment as Aviation Cadet, U.S.N.R. After flight training at the Naval Air Stations, Corpus Christi, Texas, and Miami, Florida, he became a Naval Aviator on November 5, 1942, and was commissioned Ensign, U.S.N.R., with date of rank October 16, 1942. He was promoted to Lieutenant on May 1, 1945, and was transferred to the Retired List of the U.S. Naval Reserve on June 1, 1956, and advanced to the rank of Lieutenant Commander on the basis of combat citations.
Detached from Naval Air Station, Miami, Florida, in December 1942, he served with Fighting Squadron 17 in the Pacific War Area until March 1944. That squadron won the Navy Unit Commendation and he was personally awarded the Navy Cross, a Gold Star in lieu of the second Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
From March until June he was attached to the Fleet Air, Alameda, Command, and the last six months of that year served with Fighting Squadron 84. In December 1944 he was transferred to the staff of Commander Fleet Air, West Coast, and remained in that assignment throughout the remaining period of hostilities. After the Japanese surrender, and period of terminal leave, he was released from all active duty on November 7, 1945.
In addition to the Navy Cross with Gold Star, the silver Star Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the ribbon for the Navy Unit Commendation to Fighting Squadron Seventeen, Lieutenant Commander Kepford has the American Defense Service Medal; the American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal.
A student at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, where he was a football start at the time of his enlistment in August 1941, he returned to Chicago after becoming the U.S. Navy's leading ace scoring a record 16 confirmed Japanese planes destroyed during World War II. In January 1956 he was Vice-President, Marketing and Advertising, Liggett-Rexall Drug Company. He left the Ligget-Rexall post in the late sixties to dabble in investments in New Jersey and Connecticut. He retired in the early seventies and returned to Harbor Springs, Michigan, where he remained until his death in 1987. He was survived by his wife Kraeg, a daughter Tracey and a son Tim. To his family, his classmates, and many admirers in the Muskegon area, Ike remains the classic prototype of an American hero---a title earned in two distinctly different fields of endeavor.