Fighting in the Philippines, Liberating Los Banos and Occupation Duty
Going Home, Joining the Airborne and Pre-Deployment Training
Los Banos, Going Home and Postwar Life
Culture Shock, Pearl Harbor and Dysentery
Artillery Support for the Los Banos Raid
A Japanese Soldier's Suicide
Emmett Kaylor was born in Highspire, Pennsylvania. He went to school from kindergarten to 12th grade was in the same building. A friend's dad across the street built a shed for the two kids to play with. Somehow, it caught on fire and he recalls his mother becoming hysterical. This was when Kaylor was six 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 teens 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: December 1942]. He went to the draft board on 6 January 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 training at Camp Gordon where they trained until the end of May. They were then sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Fort Sill was a more permanent base than Camp Gordon. Kaylor felt like he was in a hotel because all of the buildings were stucco. They practiced and trained on the 105mm artillery piece [Annotator's note: the 105mm M2A1 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 1944 until September when they went overseas on the Matsonia. They landed at Oro Bay in New Guinea in September then stayed there until January 1945. In New Guinea, they went through their jungle training. There was a latrine that every so often they had to clean out because of the flies. One guy had an entire five gallon can of gasoline to pour into the pit. Instead of pouring a little bit down, he poured the entire five gallons down. When he 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 [Annotator's Note: amphibious truck], which was a wheeled landing craft. 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 Emmett 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. One guy was killed and another was wounded that night. One of the bullets went through the wheel of the 105mm gun and hit the man. They ended up using all of the plasma they had on the one wounded man and they gave some to a wounded Japanese soldier. Kaylor was with the 472nd Field Artillery Battalion [Annotator's Note: 472nd Field Artillery Battalion, 11th Airborne Division]. They had four guns. They went from one end of the island [Annotator's Note: Luzon] 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. No one was told what it was. They were told that they were 25 miles behind enemy lines. The Airborne came in at around seven o'clock in the morning. The Philippine guerillas were spying on the Japanese. They knew when the 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 2,147 prisoners in a prisoner camp [Anntator's Note: at the 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 3,000 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 on 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. Only one or two people 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 got word that the Japanese were so mad they wiped out another town completely. This was around May or June 1945. They made a camp there in Coconut Grove. They stayed there until August 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 then went to Japan. Kaylor arrived in 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. Kaylor fell asleep and did not go up. They landed at Atsugi airfield. 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 [Annotator's Note: unsure of spelling], Japan. There was an American 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]. Emmett 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 alright but 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 Division 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 a glider outfit. During 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 seven 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 105mm's [Annotator's Note: M2A1 105mm howitzer] the entire war. At Fort Sill, Oklahoma they did fire missions for the OCS [Annotator's Note: officer candidate school] 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 seven 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.
[Annotator's Note: Emmett Keylor served in the Army as a fuze setter on a 105mm gun crew in the 472nd Airborne Field Artillery Battalion, 11th Airborne Division and took part in combat operations in the Philippines.] 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: Landing Vehicle Tracked, or LVT, was an amphibious tank]. 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. 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 105mm guns. If it was not for the war ending he feels like he would not be here today. Kaylor carried the M1 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] when he ran into two Japanese kids who were loaded on 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: Highspire, Pennsylvania]. He got home in the early evening but his family was not home. A 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 after he got home. His father worked for the state. He began working for the state and stayed for two 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 1964. He was slated to go to Oklahoma but his wife had breast cancer and three 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 1978.
Emmett Kaylor's time in 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 y'all come back." They were nice people and it was a good experience. Kaylor was at a friends 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. 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 [Annotator's Note: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] symptoms. While they were in the Philippines, Kaylor pulled guard duty one night. Anything that moved made people nervous. One of his buddies shot a water buffalo one night while on guard duty. The mess cook decided to butcher the buffalo. They made buffalo steaks. When they put it in between two 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 six sulfa pills and made him take them. The pills helped. Kaylor was not wounded. Outside of that one time in the foxhole there were no other close calls. One of his buddies made a mistake during that firefight, 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 in 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 himself 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.
Emmett 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 WWII 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.[Annotator's 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 Division 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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