Kenneth Simonet was born on November 3, 1924, in New York City. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on December 2, 1942, and served with the 1st Marine Raider Battalion and the 4th Marine Regiment in the Pacific during World War II. Simonet left the Marine Corps in February 1946 and enlisted in the U.S. Army in December 1946, serving with E Company, 1st Battalion of the 188th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Japan until June 1948, when he entered the U.S. Military Academy. He was commissioned a 2Lt in the U.S. Air Force on June 3, 1952, and completed Undergraduate Pilot Training and was awarded his pilot wings in September 1953. He next served as an instructor pilot at Bryan AFB, Texas, from March 1954 to January 1957. Simonet flew with the 8th Fighter Bomber Squadron at Misawa AB, Japan, from January 1957 to June 1958, when he became an instructor at Air Force ROTC Detachment 765 at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. He flew with the 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron at MacDill AFB, Florida, from August 1962 to May 1964. During this time he stood alert during the Cuban Missile Crisis. His next assignment was with the 2nd Air Division at Tan Son Nhut AB in the Republic of Vietnam, where he was a test project officer from May 1964 to September 1965. From September 1965 to July 1967, Simonet flew with the 4th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Eglin AFB, Florida. He began his second tour of duty in Southeast Asia in July 1967, flying combat missions with the 435th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Ubon Royal Thai AFB, Thailand. On January 18, 1968, Major Simonet was credited with the destruction of a MIG-17 in aerial combat, but was forced to eject over North Vietnam on the same mission and became a Prisoner of War. After spending 1,883 days in captivity, Col Simonet was released during Operation Homecoming on March 14, 1973. After hospitalization, he got an AFIT assignment at Florida Atlantic University. He next served with the 2853rd Air Base Group at Robins AFB, Georgia, from June 1975 to May 1978. His final assignment was with the 601st Tactical Control Wing at Mohringen, West Germany, from May 1978 until his retirement from the Air Force on September 30, 1981. Ken Simonet died on April 22, 2014, and was buried at Arlington Memorial Park in Sandy Springs, Georgia.
His 1st (of 2) Silver Star Citation reads:
Major Kenneth A. Simonet distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force as an F-4D Aircraft Commander over North Vietnam on 18 January 1968. On that date, Major Simonet delivered his ordnance on an important strategic target in the face of intense antiaircraft artillery fire, tracking surface-to-air missiles, and attacking hostile aircraft. With exceptional boldness and courage, Major Simonet then engaged the hostile aircraft in close air to air combat. As a direct result of Major Simonet's efforts, his target was heavily damaged, and one hostile aircraft was shot down. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Major Simonet has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.