The Elliott Legacy
God’s design for Ken must have been a life of caring and service coupled with adventure. At the age of only 15, he joined the 160th Infantry California National Guard, even though the legal age to do so was 16! Ken also completed six years of enlistment in the 251st Coast Artillery California National Guard.
First, the adventure of the sea and the military beckoned. In 1929, at age 16, he signed up for three trips on the S.S. Calawaii as it sailed from California to Hawaii and back. Ken was bound for the journey of a lifetime in 1934: a trip literally around the world, from California to Hawaii to Japan to China, where he celebrated his 21st birthday in Shanghai! Through the Philippines, Singapore, India, Egypt and European ports, across the Atlantic to New York, then down to Cuba and through the Panama Canal to Los Angeles, the exciting voyage on the S.S. President Polk covered over 26,200 miles, in 15 foreign countries and took three months and twenty days to complete. This surely shaped his taste for future adventure and a life of serving his fellow man.
Returning home, he met and married Carrie Van Dyke in 1936. This delightful woman became the love of his life. She was a beautiful, exotic lady and a loving and caring wife. Carrie would patiently wait for Ken every time he embarked on a military assignment. Not having children of their own, Ken and Carrie became devoted to their wonderful nephews, nieces and extended family. (See Thumbnail Photo #1)
Ken graduated from Long Beach Junior College (now Long Beach City College) and was awarded a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Southern California.
While living on Belmont Avenue as a lad, fate took a hand. Only a block away from his house was Fire Station Number 9. Ken got to know the firemen there and perhaps he began to realize that “devotion to service” was to be his destiny! This admirable theme would play out in so many aspects of Ken’s life. His fascination with the role of fire fighters resulted in a Civil Service permanent appointment to the Long Beach Fire Department in 1942. His record there was outstanding. But in 1943, it was time for Ken to serve his country once more. Flying with the Pacific Division of the Military Air Transport Command during World War II, he performed most admirably as a vital part of the military airlift system. Flying 46 missions, totaling 1,047 hours of operational flight, he encountered every major combat zone in the Pacific theater, eventually achieving the rank of Lt. Colonel. One compelling assignment was escorting General Jonathan M. Wainwright back to the States on a legendary journey. The General was the recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor presented by President Truman. Ken also served under General Buckner, Commander of the 10th Army, and received a commendation from him, as well as a citation from Major General William Ord Ryan, Commander of the Pacific Division of Air Transport Command. Ken was awarded the Air Medal for “meritorious achievement under trying and hazardous conditions.” This remarkable military career expanded in the years of Korean Conflict and continued all the way to 1964 with a special staff visit to observe Air Force operations in Europe, for a total of 29 astounding years! (See Thumbnail Photo #2)
When not on active military duty, Ken was assuming the role of another kind of hero: serving with the Long Beach Fire Department for 36 exceptional years. He progressed from Secretary to the Fire Chief to Captain of the Fire Suppression Force. He diligently developed and implemented Data Processing Programs for Fire Occupancy Inspections and a Field Inspections for the Fire Prevention Bureau. While attending USC, he wrote a Term Paper on a “Proposed Three Platoon System” for fire station staffing. This proposal was adopted by the Long Beach Fire Department in 1960. Ken retired on disability in 1978 after bravely incurring back injuries while fighting a paint factory fire. (See Thumbnail Photo #3)
Ken’s outstanding character is reflective of the Masonic Fraternity who have played a major role in Ken’s life. In 1935, he became a Master Mason. He has served in every official capacity until finally attaining the status of Worshipful Master in 1970. In Japan, while on active military duty in 1951, Ken became a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason, affiliating with the Long Beach Bodies 2 years later. He received the rank and decoration of Knight Commander of the Court of Honour in 1971. Ken was Coroneted a 33rd Degree Inspector General Honorary in 1981. He received the Golden Veterans 50 Year pin in 1981 and the Legion of Merit Award presented by Ill. H. Douglas Lemons, 33°, Sovereign Grand Inspector General in California in 2001. What a truly exemplary career of impeccable service to the Masonic Fraternity. (See Thumbnail Photos #4, #5 & #6)
Upon the death of his beloved Carrie in 1992, Ken moved to the Bixby Knolls Towers and enjoys a comfortable life there. He continues to participate in the Writer’s Group. He has produced a magnificent journal, detailing the highlights of his military and Fire Department career. A body of work filled with inspirational quotes, it has become a treasure for his family to enjoy.
The Long Beach Scottish Rite Childhood Language Center touched the hearts of Ken and Carrie. Although childless, they always had great interest in the welfare of children. Ken and Carrie plan to continue their support of the Long Beach Scottish Rite Childhood Language Center in their Estate Planning.
Ken serves as an inspiration for how to live the best possible life. With his caring, compassion and dedication to service, we are proud and grateful to salute this outstanding citizen, Air Force Officer, fire fighter and Master Mason.
The inspirational accomplishments of Kenneth P. Elliott would make up an Oscar-worthy movie of epic proportions. Devoted to community service from a very young age, he has excelled in every calling, from the military to the Masonic Fraternity to the Long Beach Fire Department. His life reflects his sincere, heart-felt desire to improve the world, and through his selfless deeds, Kenneth P. Elliott has done exactly that.
Born in Riverside, CA, in 1913 and raised in Long Beach, Ken graduated from Long Beach Wilson High School in 1932. Ken’s brother, Bill, was born in Riverside, CA, in 1911 and passed away in 2002 at the age of 91. Sadly, his younger sister Harriett, to whom he was supremely devoted and who even rode to school on the back of Ken’s bike, passed away from Tuberculosis at the tender age of eight.