Kittleson, Galen C., CSM

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Last Rank
Command Sergeant Major
Last Service Branch
Last Primary MOS
00Z-Command Sergeant Major IN
Last MOS Group
Infantry (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1976-1978, 00Z, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
Service Years
1942 - 1978

Special Forces
Command Sergeant Major

Ten Service Stripes

Ten Overseas Service Bars

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by MAJ Mark E Cooper to remember Kittleson, Galen C. (Pappy), CSM.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Not Specified
Last Address
Toeterville, Iowa

Date of Passing
May 04, 2006
Location of Interment
First Lutheran Cemetery - Saint Ansgar, Iowa
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

Infantry Shoulder Cord Special Forces Group

 Unofficial Badges 

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
The passing of a hero: Command Sgt. Maj. Galen Kittleson

TOETERVILLE — The final battle of a distinguished soldier is finished.
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Galen Kittleson died of cancer late Thursday.
He was 81.
“We won’t see another like Sergeant-Major,” 36-year-old Jon Henaman of St. Ansgar, a veteran of the Army airborne infantry, said of his mentor. “He was an incredible man who touched many lives, a legend in the military Special Forces.”
And among civilians of all ages who knew the man.
“Gay’s life was about core values — family, faith, love of country and respect for his fellow human beings,” 41-year-old Bob Collier of Austin, Minn., said. “His was a life of service and sacrifice.”
Kittleson’s distinguished military career spanned four decades, several continents  and three wars — World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
One of the elite Alamo Scouts during World War II and a Green Beret in Vietnam, Kittleson rose through the ranks to become command sergeant major of the 1st Special Forces and the U.S. Army garrison on Okinawa.
His age and the affection he elicited from the thousands of young troops he trained at Fort Bragg, N.C., earned Kittleson the nickname “Pappy.”
There are medals — Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart and more — of which he seldom spoke.
There is a book — “Raider” — chronicling Kittleson’s remarkable life of service.
Former Green Beret and military journalist Charles Sasser said of Kittleson, “He is a hero. Everyone in Special Forces knew him. Yet almost no one outside the military knows, because true heroes like Galen do not draw attention to themselves. They just live.”
As a 19-year-old in 1943, he carried a mortally wounded comrade out of the dense New Guinea jungle. He was awarded the Silver Star.
Even the span of 56 years could not erase the deep sadness in his dark eyes. “He didn’t make it,” Kittleson said in a 1999 interview.
At a tender age, Kittleson learned to face and overcome his deepest fears.
He was in Cabanatuan on Jan. 30, 1945 — part of the daring raid when the 6th Ranger Battalion and a handful of Alamo Scouts liberated some 500 American prisoners who survived the Bataan Death March.
He was there in the fall of 1957 — when the now famous “Little Rock Nine” took their first tentative steps into history, integrating Little Rock, Ark., Central High School.
He was there in 1970 — part of the POW raid on Son Tay near Hanoi in North Vietnam.
More than 30 years later, in a 2002 interview, frustration still lingered as Kittleson shook his head, saying “That one didn’t work out.”
When he retired in 1979, his beloved troops bronzed his beret before Kittleson returned to his rural Mitchell County roots with his wife,  Darlene.
And once again, he was there for another generation — the teenagers of the Alamo Scout Troop he founded in 1982.
Collier and Army Sgt. 1st Class Elisa Feldt, now a decorated member of the elite Golden Knights Parachute Team, were among the first Alamo Scout alumni.
Kittleson, they say, was a commanding figure.
His manner was straightforward; his expectations, high. His lessons of honesty, self-discipline, self-reliance and respect shaped the adults they would become.
“Yet he was such a humble man, certainly never one to brag,” Collier said. “Not until I read the book, did I fully understand his accomplishments, his self-sacrifice.”
“Sergeant Major has been an inspiration in my life, the person behind my career in the military,” the 41-year-old Feldt said. “He taught me discipline. From him I learned about honor, about courage. I will always remember him in that uniform, standing tall.”
A poor farmer’s son from Iowa, Kittleson traveled far from his roots, finding courage and faith, said his son, Lance Kittleson, an ordained minister and chaplain in the Army Reserve. “And in doing so he earned the love of his family and the respect and gratitude of a nation.”
For Galen Kittleson — the soldier and the man — even in death, there is victory.
Other Comments:
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 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar

Combat Infantryman 2nd Award
Master Parachutist
Vietnam - Jump Wings

 Unit Assignments
1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry (Airborne)6th Army (Sixth Army)/Alamo Scouts101st Airborne Division 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
6th Special Forces Group5th Special Forces Group (Airborne)Joint Contingency Task Group (JCTG) Son Tay Raiders1st Special Forces Group (Airborne)
7th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
  1942-1943, 745, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry (Airborne)/HHC
  1943-1945, 745, 6th Army (Sixth Army)/Alamo Scouts
  1956-1958, 1745, 101st Airborne Division
  1958-1961, 11G50, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
  1962-1966, 6th Special Forces Group
  1966-1968, 11B10, HHC, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
  1970-1971, 11Z50, Joint Contingency Task Group (JCTG) Son Tay Raiders
  1973-1976, 00Z, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne)
  1976-1978, 00Z, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1942-1942 Guadalcanal Campaign (1942-43)/Battle of Edson's Ridge
  1943-1943 Northern Solomons Campaign (1943-44)/Battle of the Treasury Islands (Operation Goodtime)
  1943-1943 Northern Solomons Campaign (1943-44)/Battle of Vella LaVella Island
  1944-1944 Leyte Campaign (1944-45)/Battle of Mindoro
  1945-1945 Luzon Campaign (1944-45)/Battle for Manila
  1945-1945 WWII - Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Surrender of Japan
  1945-1945 Luzon Campaign (1944-45)/Raid on Cabanatuan
  1968-1968 Vietnam War/Tet Counteroffensive Campaign (1968)
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