Brandon Lancaster- World War II
During World War II Brandon Lancaster was serving in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater. He served in the Philippines during clean-up operations and later thought he was going to be involved in the invasion of Japan.
"We were on a ship, pulling out of the harbor, when we got the word from General McArthur that World War II was over. We were to have invaded Japan. We pulled back on the beaches. We went and occupied Korea for a few months and sent the Japanese home."
Lancaster feels he was lucky to have escaped that invasion, and to have been in the Philippines after the worst of the fighting was over. In reference to the Japanese still left on those islands he says, "There weren't any left that had any fighting spirit."
Still, it wasn't easy. "The Japanese made a bunch of caves and what have you, waiting on the Americans to get to that particular island to bite. Americans would use flamethrowers and shoot a stream of fire into those caves. 'Bout the only way you could feel safe [before sticking] your head around the mouth of those caves that they had."
Lancaster says the Philippine people suffered much cruelty at the hands of the Japanese. "They were cold hearted, brutal; they really almost weren't human. After the war some of them came over here to work. They're like we are now, they're nice people, but still...you can't ever have a respect [for them]. They killed several thousand in Pearl Harbor and started all that mess…. Couldn't look at them the same way ever. They used psychological warfare as much as anything. Didn't follow any of the rules."
As a result of that, the Philippine people were extremely grateful to the Americans coming in to run the Japanese out. "They were really happy. They'd have little flags when we would land on different islands. They lived on bananas, coconuts, and chickens. Anything they could raise because, when we were there, we had moved the Japs on back toward Manila…. So the Philippinos didn't have much. They would do most anything you could think of for [just a] sheet. They fared pretty good after the Japanese moved out and the American's moved in. We were always good to them. But, I still remember we'd be out in the field and empty our mess gear in the garbage can. Those little kids on up to so high would raid those garbage cans for food. You just never forget that."
He has good memories of the people of the Philippines. "The Philippinos always got along with themselves, you know. This island and that island would be friends. They were just like we were with Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama. Ala and Tenn get along fine except on football!"
Brandon Lancaster was awarded the Asiatic-Pacific Theater Medal with a subsequent award of a star and the Philippine Liberation Medal with a subsequent award of a star. Those medals were destroyed in a house fire shortly after he returned home from the war