Ken Staley, Deadeye
96th Infantry Division - 382 Regiment
Rifleman K Company

Ken Staley, a Deadeye, is the author/artist of the book, "The Battle of Okinawa as Seen From the Foxholes of Ken Staley."

 Ken was a rifleman with Co K of the 383rd Regiment. His drawings were made in 1945 on Okinawa and Mindoro.

   Ken has also written his memoir titled, "Okinawa Sketchbook."


Ken Staley passed away on March 31, 2011 due to a stroke.

We will all miss him, and are very grateful to share his work, which he shared with us before he passed away.

Slideshow of Ken Staley Schenectady, NY by the Daily Gazette News,
Click the image to the right to go to Ken's Obituary.

Ken Staley of Niskayuna, now 88, sketched friends and dramatic scenes while serving with the Army in the Pacific during WWII

by Jeff Wilkin | November 10, 2008

  Ken Staley 2008


Ken Staley’s memories of World War II are also represented in black and white, but few are photographs.
The soldiers he met and places he saw during the mid-1940s are re-created in ink. The longtime Niskayuna resident sketched friends and dramatic scenes as he traveled and fought as a member of the Army’s 96th Infantry Division. Staley was in the field for most of the Battle of Okinawa.

  Slideshow Link

The soldiers he met and places he saw during the mid-1940s are re-created in
Historians say the 82-day battle was the bloodiest campaign in the Pacific war zone. American casualties included 12,000 dead and 35,000 wounded; about 100,000 Japanese soldiers lost their lives in the fighting.
Staley grew up in the state of Washington’s southeast Tri-City section of Kennewick, Pasco and Richland, and was an artist before he became a rifleman. He began studies at the Art Center School in Los Angeles in 1939 (now the Art Center College of Design), and put down pens and pads when the U.S. entered the war.
Instructors had told students to sketch whenever they could. Staley followed their advice.


Ken Staley attended many Reunions of the 96th Infantry Deadeye Association.Ken Staley attended many Reunions of the 96th Infantry Deadeye Association.


"I was kind of fascinated by the scenery,” said Staley, now 88, of his time in Okinawa. “I didn’t draw any battle scenes because I was pretty involved in the battles.”
His wartime sketchbook includes shots of a weary Ray “Doc” Strenski sitting on the battlefield; soldiers resting as they travel to the battle front; exploration of Okinawan tombs for sleeping quarters; and Staley and pal Byron Stearly pausing in a foxhole.
Some of the drawings show drama, and hard times of war. In Staley’s drawing, a U.S. patrol has cornered a Japanese soldier in a house. The man has refused to come out. “So they set it on fire,” Staley said.

A Dollar a Sketch

Cameras were scarce in Staley’s part of the war, “which was good for me,” he said. “In the mess camp, after the battle, I set up a little business sketching the soldiers. I sketched the soldiers in their outfits, holding their rifles and so on. It was good money at that time, a dollar a sketch.”

Staley trusted other memories to the written word. He has typed many of his World War II experiences into a 121-page manuscript that describes an infantryman’s trials.
In one story, Staley writes about fighter planes and light bombers that flew over front lines and attacked enemy positions.
“The light bombers would drop four bombs at a time,” Staley says. “One time, we heard that a bomber had unloaded on our own troops. As they say, ‘War is a messy occupation. Whichever side screws up the least wins.’

“Anyway, whenever we moved south into new positions, we were amazed at the complete devastation: dead enemy soldiers, civilians, horses, smashed villages — everything. Of course, in addition to the aerial bombardment and machine gunning, the battlefield had also been pummeled by the great naval ships and our own artillery and mortars.”

He also writes about close calls.
“One of the most dangerous operations was when we had to run across open fields or cabbage patches to new positions closer to the enemy,” Staley writes. “Unlike the usual TV documentaries . . . with soldiers scrambling out of their deep trenches and making mass charges through barbwire fences and exploding artillery shells, our soldiers usually ran to the new positions one soldier at a time.

“The Sarge would tell us in advance the order in which we were to go out. I noticed that the guys would usually wait until the proceeding soldier got all the way across the field before shoving off. After witnessing this procedure a few times, I figured that if I took off about ten seconds after the guy ahead of me, the ubiquitous sniper, or snipers, would be presented with two moving targets instead of just one to concentrate on, thereby increasing my chance of a successful run by 50 percent. I don’t think anyone else thought of this tactic.”
Staley added that snipers still managed to put a few bullets into the dirt between his boots.

War recollections

He also recalled weird little parts of the war, incidents both humorous and dramatic.
“For some reason known only to the Army,” he wrote, “K-rations [pre-packaged breakfast, lunch and dinner] seemed to drop from the sky and C-rations [canned foods] came up by jeep. Both methods had their problems. During the two weeks of rain in early May, Navy [planes] dropped the K-rations, which were in packages about the size of a small refrigerator and were slowed down slightly by a mini-parachute. Once, a Navy pilot almost ‘bombed’ one of our guys — the G.I. barely outran the [food container] before it crashed to the ground just behind the running soldier.”
Staley was stationed in the Philippines after the war ended. He eventually left the infantry for a job that permitted more artistic license.

“There was a notice in the Army paper that they needed an artist at the [Information and Education] section at division headquarters to work on the paper,” Staley said. “I grabbed a few sketchbooks, ran over and got the job.”
After the war, he returned to art school for his final two years’ training in commercial art and advertising illustration. In 1948, he was hired as an artist for the employee and public relations section of the General Electric Co.’s Hanford Atomic Products Operation in Richland, Wash.

Staley transferred to GE’s research lab in Niskayuna in 1962. As a senior artist, he produced work ranging from cartoons to airbrushed technical illustrations. Most of the art was photographed for color slides used by scientists during presentations.

Staley also promoted art in public. During the 1970s, he volunteered as exhibits coordinator for the Schenectady County Public Library and invited local artists to exhibit paintings.
Staley retired from GE in 1980.

The sketches from Okinawa remained in storage for years. Staley brought them back into the light in 1993, when he began attending reunions of his infantry group. There was enough interest to justify production of a booklet, with brief explanations under the drawings, that Staley brought to subsequent gatherings.

“I sold them for 10 bucks each,” Staley said of the books, designed only for soldiers. “I probably broke even.”

To View Ken's drawings in a larger jpg, click on each image.
Third Battalian Chapel
Conical Peak
In a Foxhole Near Kakazu
An Okinawa Village
Waiting to Move Up
On Patrol