Galen C. Kittleson enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943, joining the 503rd Regimental Combat Team in New Guinea after airborne training. In 1944, the combat infantryman volunteered for the Alamo Scouts, an elite reconnaissance unit created by Lieutenant General (LTG) Walter Krueger, commander of the Alamo Force in the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA).
As an Alamo Scout, Kittleson conducted extremely dangerous and complex missions behind enemy lines, collecting information on Japanese troop movements, dispositions, and direct action missions. In October 1944, Private First Class Kittleson helped rescue 66 Dutch, French, and Japanese prisoners from their Japanese captors on the island of Oransbari.
In January 1945, he participated in the famous rescue of more than 500 Allied Prisoners of War (POWs) from an enemy camp in Cabanatuan, Luzon, Philippines. Later, Staff Sergeant Kittleson volunteered for Special Forces and served in Vietnam, where he participated in a mission to recover a reported POW.
In 1970, Master Sergeant Kittleson was an assault element leader for the Son Tay Raid, to rescue U.S. POWs. Although unsuccessful in freeing them, it forced North Vietnam to centralize and improve prisoner conditions. Command Sergeant Major Kittleson served on four POW rescue missions in two different wars, a significant feat.
He retired from active duty in July 1978.