Kenneth Clair Abplanalp was born in Midway, Wasatch County, Utah, on 12 March 1911, son of William and Ida Huber Abplanalp. He attended Weber College at Ogden, Utah, and the University of Utah at Salt Lake City, and held the degrees of Associate in Science and Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, the latter received in 1934. He received a Master of Arts degree in Political Science from Boston University in 1957. He began his engineering career with the US Bureau of Reclamation on construction of Pine View Dam, Ogden River Project, and subsequently was engaged in the design of dams and hydraulic structures at the Bureau's Engineering Office in Denver, Colorado.
On 22 October 1940, he was commissioned Lieutenant (jg) in the Civil Engineer Corps of the US Navy and began active service on 1 November of that year. Through progressive advancement, he attained the rank of Captain, to date from 1 November 1955.
Assigned first to the Navy Yard, New York, New York, he served from November 1940 to September 1942 as Shop Superintendent in the Public Works Department. As such he organized a force of 1200 men for prewar reconditioning of the Navy Yard, then administered WPA force of 800 during the early period of World War II. Reporting next to the Naval Air Station, Daytona Beach, Florida, he served until April 1944 as Resident Officer in Charge of Construction, in charge of construction at that station and satellite air fields. For six months he was Assistant Officer in Charge of Construction at the Naval Air Center, Seattle, Washington, in charge of expansion of Naval Air Stations in Oregon, and in October and November 1944 was Range Officer, CBRD, Camp Parks, California, preparatory to an overseas assignment.
During the period November 1944 until May 1945 he served as Executive Officer of the 24th Naval Construction Regiment, which constructed Naval facilities by CB's at Hollandia, New Guinea, and Subic Bay, Philippine Islands. The next two months he was Administrative Assistant to the Commander Third Naval Construction Brigade, at Headquarters on board the USS San Clemente, at Manila, P. I., and the last two months of the war he remained in Manila, on the Staff of the Commander Construction Troops, Philippine Sea Frontier.
After the war he had eight months' duty as Public Works Officer of the Naval Operating Base, Subic Bay, P. I. In June 1946 he became Maintenance Superintendent at the Us Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, and when detached in March 1948 he was sent to the Marine Corps Air Base, Cherry Point, North Carolina, as Public Works Officer and Officer in Charge of Construction. From September 1950 until August 1953 he served as Officer in Charge of Construction, Bureau of Yards and Docks Contracts, at the Naval Activities in Port Lyautey, French Morocco.
Upon his return to the United States in August 1953, he reported to the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Washington, DC, where he was a student until June 1954. In July of that year he joined the Staff of the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, and after three years' duty there, reported to the Staff of the Director, Pacific Division, Bureau of Yards and Docks, at Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, as Assistant Director for Engineering and also for Construction and Real Estate.
Captain Abplanalp had the American Defense Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; National Defense Service Medal; and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon.
Captain Abplanalp was a member of the Society of American Military Engineers, the Us Naval Institute, and Theta Tau, Tau Beta Pi, and Phi Kappa Phi fraternities.