Mason




Sgt. Raymond Phillip Mason
     Sgt. Raymond P. Mason was born in May 1917 and lived at 112 South 11th Avenue in Maywood, Illinois.  He and his sister were the children of Katherine and Harold Mason.  His mother would later marry, Carl Bergstrom, and Ray would have a half-sister and half-brother from this marriage.  Ray attended both Washington and Emerson Grade Schools, in Maywood, and was a member of the Proviso Township High School Class of 1935.  After high school, he worked as a desk clerk at John Ollier Engraving company in Maywood.

     Raymond enlisted in the Illinois National Guard and went with the Maywood Tank Company for training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, in November, 1940, when the company was called to federal duty.  Before he left for Kentucky, he got engaged to Bernise Hengstler and planned to marry after his one year of service.  At Ft. Knox, his company was designated as B Company of the 192nd Tank Battalion.  During this training, Ray became a tank commander.  

    In the late summer of 1941, Ray continued his training during maneuvers in Louisiana.  The battalion was then sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and learned that they were being sent overseas to the Philippine Islands.  Ray and the other members of the company were given leaves home to say goodbye to their families and friends.  Ray had planned to marry, Bernice Hengstler, but changed the wedding plans when he learned he was going overseas.
    From Camp Polk, the battalion traveled west over four different train routes.  Arriving in San Francisco, the soldiers were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  On the island, the soldiers were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases. Those with health issues were released from service and replaced.
    The battalion sailed, on the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott, from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a layover.  The soldiers received passes and allowed to explore the islands. 

    Ray and the other tankers received leaves to go ashore.  Jim and Ray went into the tavern district of Honolulu that served military personnel.  As they were walking, Ray heard a song playing in one of the taverns.  He told Jim that it was his favorite song and that he wanted to listen to it.  Jim and Ray went into the bar so he could listen to it.  

    As they stood at the bar, Ray and Jim got into a conversation with two sailors.  The sailors began to tell them that they were receiving training in identifying aircraft.  The sailors stated that cardboard cut outs of planes were shown to them and that they had to identify if the plane was American or German.

    Ray and Bashleben asked the sailors why they weren't being trained to identify Japanese planes.  One of the sailors said to him that all the Japanese had were paper covered bi-planes left over from World War I.

    They sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th, for Guam.  When the ships arrived at Guam, they took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water.  The soldiers remained on ship since the convoy was sailing the next day. About 8:00 in the morning on November 20th, the ships arrived at Manila Bay.  After arriving at Manila, it was three or four hours before they disembarked.  Most of the battalion boarded trucks and rode to Ft. Stotsenburg north of Manila.
    At the fort, the tankers were met by General Edward King.  King welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed.  He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to love in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons.  They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts.  The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.
    The morning of December 8th, the officers of the battalions met and were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier.  The 192nd letter companies were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield. 
    All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, all the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.  At 12:45 planes approached the airfield from the north.  The tankers on duty at the airfield counted 54 planes.  When bombs began exploding, the men knew the planes were Japanese.  After the attack the 192nd remained at Ft. Stotsenburg for almost two weeks.  They were than sent to the Lingayen Gulf area where the Japanese had landed.   

    When the Japanese attack on Clark Field began, Ray and Jim Bashleben in an halftrack with Zenon Bardowski.  Bardowski and Bashleben were shooting 50 caliber machine guns at the Zeros, Japanese Zeros. Bashleben heard Ray say, "I guess these are those papered covered wooden propeller bi-planes the sailor in Hawaii was talking about!"

    Three weeks later, Ray and his tank crew were involved in an engagement with the Japanese at Tarlac.  While engaged in battle with the Japanese, Ray's tank was disabled when it hit a landmine and lost one of its tracks. Unable to move, Ray's tank was cut off from its support troops during the battle.  Ray and the other three members of his crew, Sgt. Walter Mahr and Pvts. Quincey Humphries, and LD Marrs, were ordered out of their tank by the Japanese.  When they got out of the tank, they expected to be taken prisoners.  Instead, they were ordered to run by the Japanese.  As they ran, all four men were machine gunned. 

     Sgt. Raymond P. Mason was killed on Monday, December 29, 1941, at the age of 24, while attempting to escape from the Japanese.  The other three members of the tank crew were wounded but made it into a sugarcane field and hid.  Two of the men were later captured by the Japanese, while the third was recovered by American forces.  According to U.S. Army records, Sgt. Raymond Mason was buried by the Japanese.

    Since his final resting place is unknown, Sgt. Raymond P. Mason's name appears on The Tablets of the Missing at the American Cemetery outside of Manila.  He was awarded the Purple Heart, the Presidential Unit Citation and the Gold Star Citation.

    After the war, a member of B Company, LD Marrs, who was from Texas, came to Maywood and told Ray's mother how Ray was killed.  It was this information about his death that was used to write his biography.     





 


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