Ed Bailey


Cullum No. 24024-1962 | October 11, 1967 | Died in Gia Dinh Province, South Vietnam
Interred In West Point Cemetery, NY 

Ellis Miller Bailey was born on March 17, 1940 in Fort Worth, TX and grew up in Itasca, the “Little Big Town” of Texas, as did his parents, George Ellis and Mattie Wallace Bailey. Growing up on a farm made him a man of many facets. He was a talented and gifted student, valedictorian of the 1958 class of Itasca High School and recipient of the Best Athlete Award. Though we, his classmates, knew him as Ed, he was always ‘Miller Bailey’ to his family and the many Texas friends who knew and loved him. He was popular and respected by his fellow students and teachers, as well as by his extended family and neighbors. He was faithful and active in his church, The Church of Christ.

Ed was appointed to the Class of ’62 by the Honorable Olin Teague of Texas’s 6th District and joined the rest of us for Beast Barracks on July 1, 1958. He was assigned to 6th New Cadet Company and was later assigned to B2. He is well remembered as a man of courage and conviction: kind, helpful and skilled in the Queen’s English (in a congenial Texas sort of way) and the Czar’s Russian. He had a good sense of humor without being frivolous. He was adventurous and could be counted on to bravely drag the unknown traveling companion of your weekend date. He was perhaps the best football player on a hapless B2 intramural football team that didn’t win many games, but he led us by example to give our best on the fields of friendly strife.

The guys in his platoon of 2nd Company at Camp Buckner had fun teasing Ed about Bailey bridges (which he was adept at assembling—2nd Company won the Engineer Trophy) and tried to tag him as ‘Beetle Bailey’ (it didn’t work, he wouldn’t answer).

Being the generous and thoughtful person he was, he invited a classmate to spend yearling Christmas with his family in Itasca. The classmate recalls fondly the love and hospitality of the Bailey home, the friendliness of that town and the universal admiration lavished upon Miller Bailey.

Ed chose Field Artillery as his branch (upon graduation). He attended the Officers Basic Course at Fort Sill, OK, the Basic Airborne Course at Fort Benning, GA, and was assigned to the 1st Armored Division at Fort Hood, TX. He served as executive officer of Battery B, 1st Battalion, 93rd Artillery, until chosen as aide to two Assistant Division Commanders, Brigadier Generals Frank C. Newell and Charles S. O’Malley. In November 1964, Ed attended the U.S. Army Aviation School at Fort Rucker, AL.

Ed met Ann Dudley of Hillsboro, TX, and they were married in 1964, about the time Ed was selected for fixed wing pilot training at Fort Rucker. Their daughter Rebecca Ann was born in August 1965 while Ed was in flight school. He graduated in 1966 with orders to a flight assignment in Korea. Ed’s Korea tour was cut short in 1966 to return to Fort Rucker for helicopter transition training and reassignment to RVN.     

Following his training, Ed took Ann and Becky to their home in Amarillo, TX. Before departure for Vietnam, Ed and Ann completed some unfinished business—boxing and sending clothes and other items to a Korean orphanage with which he had become involved. This was typical Ed.

On April 28, 1967, Ed reported to the 187th Assault Helicopter Company, 269th Aviation Battalion, 12th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade, Gia Dinh Province, South Vietnam. On October 11, 1967, Ed and crew had just finished lunch at Na Bhe when they received a mission to carry six naval personnel to a landing craft tender, where they were to land on the helicopter pad. As the landing was aborted, the helicopter settled into the river, rolled over on its left side and sank almost immediately. While the others on board survived, Ed’s jammed seat harness would not release, and he unfortunately drowned. His death was ruled an accident. On August 8, 1967, he had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross at Tay Ninh, Vietnam for actions on August 7, 1967. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (First Oak Leaf Cluster), the Bronze Star Medal, and the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters (113). His grit and selflessness to the end surprised none of us who knew him.

Miller Bailey Memorial Funds were established in both Itasca and Hillsboro. In April 1973, Ed’s parents donated his cadet uniform and artifacts for display in what is now the Texas Heritage Museum at Hill College, Hillsboro, TX. In 1997, the renowned Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg, TX, borrowed Ed’s dress uniform with tar bucket to display with his bio. While these are appreciated honors, they cannot match our sorrow or memories of Ed’s friendship, quiet humor and character.

Ellis Miller Bailey was buried at West Point on October 19, 1967 and is memorialized with a stone monument in the Itasca Cemetery, where his parents also rest. He is sorely missed by all who knew him—certainly by us, his classmates. He is a proud son of Texas and the Long Gray Line. “Well Done; Be Thou at Peace.”

— Classmates

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s