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World War II Veteran: Galen Kittleson

posted on April 9, 2006 at 6:04 PM


Photos

Born: 1924
Reason for entering military service: Kittleson volunteered for the Army and left St. Ansgar in 1942.
Assigned: 503rd Regimental Parachute Team and the 6th Army's Alamo Scouts.
Rank: Private First Class.


"And when we got to -- right close to the fence, a gong started going and we thought, my God, they know we're here."

Background:

In early 1945, 20-year old Galen Kittleson from St. Ansgar was stationed in the Philippines as part of an elite unit called the Alamo Scouts. The Alamo Scouts participated in the rescue of American POWs held by the Japanese at the Cabanatuan Prison Camp in January of 1945. The Scouts were made up of small highly trained units that operated behind Japanese battle lines gathering information about enemy forces. Kittleson's unit was selected to carry out reconnaissance on the Cabanatuan prison camp in anticipation of a rescue attempt. The camp was 30 miles behind enemy lines. With members of the 6th Ranger Battalion, an attack was planned, and on January 30, 1945, as the sun went down, the battle began. Kittleson's job was to guide the prisoners from the front gate to a gathering point at a nearby river. PFC Kittleson, who was awarded a Bronze Star for his participation in the action, describes the raid.



Transcript

Twenty-year-old Galen Kittleson from St. Ansgar was stationed in the Philippines as part of an elite unit called the Alamo Scouts. The Scouts were made up of small highly trained units that operated behind Japanese battle lines gathering information about enemy forces. Kittleson's unit was selected to carry out reconnaissance on the Cabanatuan prison camp in anticipation of a rescue attempt. The camp was 30 miles behind enemy lines.

(Galen Kittleson) I was really the first one to see it, but it was across an open field, too, because the Japanese had those prisoners growing stuff out there for the camp.

With members of the 6th Ranger Battalion, an attack was planned, and on January 30, 1945, as the sun went down, the battle began.

(Galen Kittleson) And when we got to—right close to the fence, a gong started going and we thought, my God, they know we're here. But it was sailors in that POWs that each night they'd run the 8:00, 7:00, you know, like we do in ships.

(Galen Kittleson) I know it was noisy as all heck right when they attacked it, of course, because the Rangers really done a super job. They got that gate open and those suckers really poured in there. I didn't fire a round there. I didn't have to. My job was to get those prisoners to the river, so I did that. Sometimes you had to almost grab a hold of them to keep them going the right direction, but they got there.

PFC Kittleson was awarded a Bronze Star for his participation in the raid.

Tags: Asia battlefront education history Iowa military prisoners of war prisons veterans war World War II