Ike Kepford was born on May 29, 1919, in Harvey, Illinois. He attended Northwestern University from 1938 to 1941, and enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Navy on August 18, 1941, beginning flight training on February 5, 1942. Kepford was commissioned an Ensign on October 16, 1942, and was designated a Naval Aviator on November 5, 1942. After completing F4U Corsair training, LtJg Kepford served with VF-17 in the Solomon Islands from January 1943 to March 1944, during which time he was credited with the destruction of 16 enemy aircraft in aerial combat, plus 1 probable, and 1 damaged in the air. His next assignment was with VF-84 from June to December 1944, followed by service on the staff of the Commander Fleet Air, West Coast, from December 1944 until he left active duty and joined the Naval Reserve on November 10, 1945. LCDR Kepford retired from the Naval Reserve on June 1, 1956. After leaving active duty, he worked for Owl Drug Company, becoming a Vice President in 1949, and was then made President of Liggett-Rexall Company in 1956, from which he retired in 1971. Ike Kepford died on January 21, 1987, and was buried at Lakeside Cemetery in Muskegon, Michigan.
His 1st Navy Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism in aerial flight as a Pilot of a Fighting Plane, attached to Fighting Squadron SEVENTEEN, in action against enemy Japanese forces in the vicinity of the Solomon Islands, November 11, 1943. While covering United States Task Force FIFTY POINT THREE in Empress Augusta Bay, Lieutenant (then Ensign) Kepford participated in an engagement involving approximately one hundred Japanese aircraft. Gallantly pressing home his attacks through intense antiaircraft fire, he destroyed four enemy bombers and damaged another out of a formation of thirty. His courage and airmanship reflect the highest credit upon Lieutenant Kepford and the United States Naval Service.
His 2nd Navy Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism as Pilot of a Fighter Plane in Fighting Squadron SEVENTEEN in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands Area on January 29, 1944. Intercepted by a numerically superior force of Japanese planes while flying escort for a bomber strike over Tobera airfield, Lieutenant (then Lieutenant, Junior Grade,) Kepford and a companion engaged twelve enemy planes and, pressing home his repeated attacks, personally shot down four of the hostile aircraft. By his expert airmanship and courage in the face of tremendous odds, Lieutenant Kepford contributed materially to the success of the mission and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.