Veterans Voice: John C. Cayton
John C. Cayton of Cameron has led a very adventurous life both in the military and afterwards. During high school at Northeast High in Kansas City. He lived alone his final 2 years of high school, and was in the ROTC where he learned military customs, drills, and weapons.
John joined the United States Navy in September of 1961. He went through basic training at San Diego, then went to Treasure Island for Electronic Technician School.
His next assignment was aboard the USS Bausell, a destroyer out of San Diego. They conducted patrols on the West Coast to Long Beach, San Francisco, Seattle (1962 World’s Fair), and to the Portland Rose Festival.
The ship then added additional electronic equipment and cameras on the ship, they began a WESTPAC cruise as one of 7 patrol ships (DESRON 5) to escort aircraft carriers in the Pacific during the early years of the Vietnam War. The mission was against enemy aircraft, submarines, and surface ships. The cruise included a week in Pearl Harbor, crossing the International Date Line to Sasebo Okinawa, Yokosuka and Kure, (Japan), Kaohsiung. Taiwan, and Subic Bay, Philippines. From there they went to Singapore where they tied up alongside an Australian frigate warship, then crossed the Equator where they received the traditional Initiation of SHELLBACKS, where they, “POLLYWOGS” were made SHELLBACKS.
The next leg of their cruise took them to Djakarta, Indonesia where there were both Russian and Chinese warships. The USS Bausell was the first U.S. Warship to enter the harbor in a number of years. As they entered the harbor, they photographed a large span of very high radio towers along the coast. They also photographed the coast and the harbor. It was years later that the crew learned they were a “spy” ship, which accounted for the addition of extra electronic and camera equipment prior to the cruise.
Following that, they sailed to Darwin, Australia, where they berthed for a week next to a New Zealand frigate war ship. From there they headed stateside through Subic Bay, Yokosuka, Hong Kong. They spent some time between Yokosuka and Kobe and back to Yokosuka where they challenged several submarines and all surface ships over the months, eventually returning to San Diego and routine patrols duty.
After discharge, John went back to Kansas City and his old job at B.M.A. Insurance. It was there that he met Hamilton native Katie Fields who became his wife.
He was attending college night classes and took a job working for the railroad for a lot more money. Then an opportunity came along to work at the Kansas City Missouri Police Crime Laboratory Firearms section, doing ballistic examinations. Some of other employees in the lab were in the U.S. Army Reserve 415th Military Police Detachment. John joined and was assigned as the Range Instructor and a member of the pistol team.
John served 32 years as the Chief Forensic Examiner for the KCMO Police Crime lab. He was a range sergeant with the 415th Military Police Detachment as a CW4 Special Agent, with Top Secret clearance, USAR Army CID Crime Lab 26 years, U.S. Army in Frankfurt, Germany, Fort Gordon, and Fort Gillem, GA.
John has a BS/MS from Central Missouri State in Warrensburg. Since his appointment by former Kansas City Police Chief Clarence Kelley in 1969, John has worked over 3300 homicides, testified over 500 times in various state, federal, and military courts in the United States and Europe. John specializes in firearms, knife wounds, gunshot wounds, accidental discharge, self-defense, crime scene reconstruction, staged / altered crime scenes, shoe print, and post-conviction cases. John was a member of the Major Case Investigations Squad from April 1971 until 1999.
John’s fondest military memory is the cruise throughout the Pacific. One of his fondest investigation memories was teaching forensic classes at the Navy Lab in Georgia, particularly homicide cases—something he still sometimes does on occasion.
John has been involved in a number of high-profile cases which will be covered in another article.