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Providing artillery support for the Los Banos raid

Coming home and surprising Mom

Japanese soldier commits suicide with a grenade


Kaylor was born in Highspire, Pennsylvania. He went to Highspire High School. K-12 was in the same building. A friend's dad across the street built a shed for the 2 kids to play with. Somehow it caught on fire and he recalls his mother becoming hysterical over the fire. This was when Kaylor was 6 years old.Kaylor helped out on his aunt's farm. He worked on the farm in his early teenage years and then got a job in his later teenage years working at a clothing factory in Middleton, Pennsylvania. They were producing sheepskin coats and leather jackets for the service. They made Air Force bomber jackets. Kaylor received his draft notice at the end of December [Annotator’s Note: 1942]. He went to the draft board on January 6th, 1943 and was sent to New Cumberland Army Depot. He got on a train and ended up at Camp Gordon, Georgia. He took his basic at Camp Gordon where they trained until the end of May. They were then sent to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.Ft. Sill was a more permanent base then Camp Gordon. All of the buildings were permanent. Kaylor felt like he was in a hotel because all of the buildings were stucco. They practiced and trained on the 105 millimeter artillery piece. [Annotators note: the 105 M2A1 Artillery Howitzer] Kaylor trained there for an entire year. They would have stayed but their Colonel wanted to get overseas. He then went to Camp Polk, Louisiana and was there from June of 1944 until September. They went overseas in September.They went overseas on a luxury liner called the Matsonia. They landed at Oral bay in New Guinea in September. They stayed there until January of 1945. On New Guinea they went through their jungle training. 1 of the men saw a huge python during the training and they noticed that it was full with a recent kill. One of the guys had a Grease gun and he cut the python in half. They had guard duty on New Guinea as well. There was a latrine that every so often they had to clean out because of the flies. 1 guy had an entire 5 gallon can of gasoline to pour into the pit, instead of pouring a little bit down, he poured the entire 5 gallons down. When the guy lit it he was blown back out of the latrine building. He was unharmed aside from a lot of singed hair.That same guy was very excited about going to fight the Japanese. He would express his desire to kill them. When he got overseas he cracked and broke down because of fear. They got to the Philippines late at night, near morning. They unloaded onto land via a DUKW, which was a wheeled landing craft [Annotator’s Note: an amphibious truck]. The scariest part was going over the side of the ship into the DUKW. They started by helping the infantry on the island of Luzon. Wherever the infantry needed them they would do fire missions. One time they were in a dry rice paddy. They were firing on caves in the mountains. The Japanese had a perfect view of them. That night they were attacked. The infantry was put out in front of them which left the artillery exposed. The Japanese knew this and they knew where their guns were. They attacked at night.


That was as close as Kaylor ever came to getting hit [Annotator’s Note: during a Japanese attack in the Philippines]. He was in a foxhole and recalls dirt hitting his face from the machine gun fire. 1 guy was killed and another was wounded that night. 1 of the bullets went through the wheel of the 105 gun and it hit the man. They ended up using all of the plasma they had on the 1 wounded man and they gave some to a wounded Japanese soldier.Kaylor was with the 472nd Field Artillery battalion They had 4 guns. They went from 1 end of the island to the other. Later on they were fighting around Manila. They were told to come back to a bivouac area. The next day they were told they were going on a mission. Noone was told what it was. They were told that they were 25 miles behind enemy lines. The Airborne came in at around 7 o'clock in the morning.The Philippine guerillas were spying on the Japanese. They knew when they Japanese were doing calisthenics. Whenever the Japanese exercised they would put all of their guns into a big pile. It was a perfect moment to attack. The paratroopers were the ones who really wiped out the Japanese.There were 2147 prisoners in a prisoner camp [Anntator’s Note: at Los Banos prison camp]. There were even nuns in that group. The nuns said that the paratroopers were like angels coming down to save them. There were about 3000 Japanese near the prisoner camp so time was of the essence. Kaylor was firing up the trail so the Japanese could not come down when the prisoners were being evacuated. When the paratroopers descended in the camp, the prisoners took a lot of time because they wanted to go back and get their personal belongings. The prisoners had to rush because they did not know how quickly the Japanese were going to descend. The Americans ended up setting the barracks on fire so people would hurry up. There were only 1 or 2 people who were killed.Kaylor's unit high-tailed it back to their bivouac area as soon as they could. It was an experience.He and his unit came in by land. Kaylor believes God was with them that day. The Japanese soldiers were the dirty ones. After they got back they caught word that the Japanese were so mad they wiped out another town completely. This was around May or June of 1945. They made a camp there in Coconut Grove. They stayed there until August of 1945 and then they dropped the atomic bombs.They were scheduled to go into Japan. They had their choice of jumping or gliding. Kaylor volunteered to train with the gliders. The war ended and they were there for a couple of weeks. They landed in Japan. Kaylor will never forget that he came into Japan on a C-54 passenger plane. When they were on the way to Okinawa the pilot came over and asked the guys if they wanted to come up and see Okinawa from the cockpit. He fell asleep and did not go up. They landed at Asugi [Annotators Note: unsure of spelling] airfield in Japan. Everybody was scratching and itching in the morning. Where they slept was loaded with fleas.They moved to different places in Japan. They were at Yamagata from September until October. From there they moved further north to Siroka [Annotators Note: unsure of spelling], Japan. There was a US telephone building there and they stayed in that building. They stayed there until December. It was Christmas Eve when they left. They got on the same ship that took them to New Guinea, the Matsonia. They had a big turkey dinner for all of the guys on the ship. Their first day on the ocean was Christmas Day.


It took them 12 days to get back to California [Annotator’s Note: returning from Japan after the war’s end]. They was a strike in San Francisco at the dock but it was settled and they in fact did end up at San Francisco. Kaylor was there a couple days then they were put on a train. Their train ended up hitting a gasoline truck when it was pulling out. They were away from the fire and ended up being alright. The engineer was killed trying to stop the train. From there they went all the way across the country to Pennsylvania where he was discharged.Kaylor does not recall what infantry outfit he provided support for on his first mission. There were a lot of different units that they were providing support for. He got into the 11th Airborne in Luzon after they had done a bunch of fire missions. They were attached to the Airborne first before they actually joined the Airborne. Kaylor never learned how to jump since he was in the glider outfit. During the training gliders would run into each other every now and then. He recalls a glider crashing in a rice field with a jeep. He was supposed to go the next day but it was cancelled because of the guys who were killed. It was a sad time.For the Los Banos raid, Kaylor and his unit were on the fringe of the camp. They would fire rounds up a trail to keep the Japanese back. They could see the camp and they could hear the firing. It was a little after 7 in the morning. They were about a quarter mile away from the camp. They arrived at their spot early in the previous evening. They were firing at the Japanese throughout the night. They got their guns into position with trucks. Kaylor used 105's [Annotator’s Note: 105mm Howitzers] the entire war. At Ft. Sill, Oklahoma they did fire missions for the OCS officers. Each gun crew member rotated. Kaylor ended up being the fuse setter for the Los Banos raid. He would set the distances on the shells. The distances could be adjusted. It could be set for airburst or ground burst. They had forward observers who would call in the fire missions. The gun could fire 7 miles with full charge. Depending on the range they would cut out an amount from the charge for the corresponding range. Sometimes the enemy was right against the infantry so it made it tricky. No one wanted to fire a short round. The forward observer would radio back and give information as to where they wanted the fire to come down at. It was touch and go sometimes.


The Airborne soldiers who were rescuing the civilians came in by sea as well [Annotator’s Note: during the Los Banos Raid]. They landed in Alligators [Annotator’s Note: amphibious tanks]. The paratroopers put the civilians on the Alligators. They landed again in a safe area and were put on trucks back behind their lines.They did not know what to expect when they landed in Japan. They saw civilians instead of the military when they landed. The civilians treated them well. Whenever they need anything they would get it. Kaylor recalls someone bringing him a whole bushel of persimmons. He was just carrying a rifle at that point. They were no longer attached to their 105's [Annotator’s Note: Howitzers].If it was not for the war ending he feels like he would not be here today. Kaylor carried the M-1 Carbine in Japan. People did not seem scared of the Americans in Japan. He had one experience in Siroka [Annotator’s Note: unsure of spelling], he ran into 2 Japanese kids who were loaded off of Sake. Kaylor felt threatened and he had his gun ready but they hurried down the street and nothing happened.Kaylor and a friend drove a jeep around looking for any members of the Japanese military but they did not find any. He told his parents before he left for Japan that he would be home soon but did not know for sure.Kaylor caught a bus to Harrisburg and from there he caught a bus to Highspire [Annotator’s Note: Pennsylvania]. He got home in the early evening but his family was not home. They used to go grab milk from family friends. The neighbor came over and asked if he wanted him to take him to his parents. Kaylor looked in through the kitchen window and his mother saw him. He thought she was going to have a heart attack. Everyone was happy to see him. They ended up going home for the night. Kaylor recalled having ice cream because he did not have ice cream for the longest time. He and his parents went for ice cream a lot.He loafed around for about a month when he got home. His father worked for the state. He began working for the state where he worked for 2 years. There was an opening at Homestead Air Force Base. Kaylor got a job there and worked there for 18 years. They finally closed down Homestead Air Force Base. He was there until August of 1964. He was slated to go to Oklahoma but his wife had breast cancer and 3 kids at that point so he got a job at New Cumberland Army Depot. Kaylor put 12 years in at New Cumberland. He worked different shifts and it was wearing on him. He figured out what his retirement was going to be and it turned out to be enough. He retired in January of 1978.


Kaylor's time at basic training was his first time in the South where they talked a little different. Their northern accents drew a little bit of attention. He went into an Army Navy place and they were buying trinkets from girls who were working there. The girls yelled, "Make sure ya'll come back." They were nice people and it was a good experience.Kaylor was at a friend’s house for dinner when he found out about Pearl Harbor. They were listening to the radio and that is how they found out They had never heard of Pearl Harbor before because it was thousands of miles away. Out of sight out of mind. Once Kaylor looked on a map he realized that Pearl Harbor was not that far away. He was nervous after the war. He did experience certain PTSD [Annotators Note: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] symptoms.While they were in the Philippines Kaylor pulled guard duty 1 night. Anything that moved made people nervous. One of his buddies shot a water buffalo 1 night while on guard duty. The mess cook decided to butcher the buffalo. They made buffalo steaks. When they put it in between 2 pieces of bread they would bite it like a sandwich but the meat had elastic qualities and it would stretch. It was comical. They did not get much meat off the buffalo. Kaylor got dysentery while in the Philippines. He put up with it until he could not put up with it anymore.His sergeant demanded that he get something done. The doctor gave him 6 sulfa pills. The pills were about the size of a nickel. He took 2 and was not able to eat any more. The doctor told him, "Soldier I am going to stand here until you finish all 6 pills because it is for your own good." The pills actually helped.Kaylor was not wounded. Outside of that 1 time in the foxhole there were no other close calls. 1 of his buddies made a mistake during that firefight. His buddy jumped out of his hole and was killed by a bullet to the stomach. That was a bad experience. They had an attack near Luzon and they were targeting an agricultural building. They fired on the building. They had a young man on the crew from West Virginia. His job was to put the shells in the gun. He was really good at it. He had the third shell in the gun when the first shell dropped.It was only about a mile and a half away. Before Kaylor went down to where they were firing at they ran into a stream and the guys decided to wash themselves. While they were cleaning themselves at the stream one of the guys spotted a Japanese soldier in the grass, they all took off because they did not have their guns. The Japanese soldier put a grenade against his stomach and it blew him up. All that was left was a couple of pieces of ribs. The next morning they went down a road to where they were firing on the Japanese. The Japanese were either dead or wounded. The climate was so hot that the flies were already coming out of the Japanese bodies.


Kaylor was only about 500 yards away from the Japanese. They were so hungry that they ate despite the smells.Kaylor believes that schools should continue to study World War 2. Once the veterans are gone that will be it. He believes that The National World War II Museum is a good thing because that is the only way people will remember. He believes that the World War 2 generation is the greatest generation. He felt that Saving Private Ryan was an accurate film. It is not hard for him to watch war films. They bring back a lot of memories. Kaylor watched a Discovery Channel special on the Los Banos Raid and it brought back a lot of memories. He hopes that future generations will appreciate what they did in World War 2. If they had not done what they did the Nazis or the Japanese would have taken over.Kaylor gives a lot of credit to the home front as well. The women did a great job.[Annotators Note: The interviewer goes around Kaylor's room and they discuss his jacket and some of his war memorabilia.]Kaylor has a New Guinea combat ribbon and a Philippines combat ribbon. He made PFC. His jacket has an 11th Airborne patch on it. He also has an occupation ribbon.Kaylor met a Filipino boy who he fed on the island. On the island of Luzon they were at a rest camp. The kid came around asking if they had any food. The kid would give them bananas and they would give the kid food. Kaylor discovered that his buddy from Ohio went to a doctor and they got to talking about the Philippines. The doctor told him they were near Luzon near the Lipa Airfield. The man told the doctor that is where they were at. The doctor was the little boy who had been asking for food.

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