Pvt. Paul A. Ratay
Pvt. Paul A. Ratay was the son of Julia Hruska-Ratay and John Ratay. He was born in March 23, 1918, in Mahonig County, Ohio and grew up in Youngstown. It is known that he had four sisters and two brothers. In 1940, he was living with his brother, John, at 177 West Chalmers Avenue. Both brothers worked in a steel mill.
On March 25, 1941 in Cleveland, John was inducted into the U. S. Army and sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky. Upon arriving there, he was assigned to Headquarters Company of the 192nd Tank Battalion. The battalion was made up of National Guardsmen from Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky. It is not known what duties he performed.
In the late summer of 1941, Paul took part in maneuvers in Louisiana for additional training. After the maneuvers, the 192nd Tank Battalion was informed that it was being sent overseas. Those members of the battalion 29 years old or older were given the opportunity to be reassigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion. Members of the 753rd were asked to volunteer to fill the vacancies in the 192nd. Peter volunteered to join the 192nd.
Traveling west over four different train routes,
the 192nd arrived in San Francisco. There,
they were ferried to Angel Island. Once on
the island, the battalion members received
physicals and inoculations. A few days later
they boarded a transport bound for the Philippine
The morning of December 8, 1941, the members of the 192nd were told of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Many of the men believed that this was the start of the maneuvers.
Around 12:45 in the afternoon, while Paul and the other men were having chow, planes appeared over the airfield. At first, the men believed the planes were American. It was only when they saw the bomb bay doors opening and the red dots on the wings that the men knew the planes were Japanese.
During the attack on Clark Field, Paul and the other men in HQ Company could do little but take cover. After the attack, he and the other men saw the carnage that had been done.
For the next four months, Paul and his company worked to keep the tanks of the 192nd supplied with gasoline and ammunition. The morning of April 9, 1942, Capt. Fred Bruni the Commanding Officer of HQ Company informed his men of the surrender. He told them to destroy anything that could be used by the Japanese.
Paul and the other men remained in their encampment for two days before they were ordered by a Japanese officer to move out to the road that passed their encampment. They were then told to kneel along the sides of the road. As they knelt, Japanese soldiers took whatever they wanted from Paul's and the other men's possessions.
HQ Company boarded trucks and drove to Mariveles. From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and sat and waited. As they sat, Paul and the other Prisoners of War noticed a line of Japanese soldiers forming across from them. They soon realized that this was a firing squad and the Japanese were going to kill them.
As they sat there watching and waiting to see what the Japanese intended to do, a Japanese officer pulled up in a car in front of the Japanese soldiers. He got out of the car and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail. The officer got back in the car and drove off. The Japanese sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.
Later in the day, Paul's group of POWs was moved to a school yard in Mariveles. In the school yard, they found themselves sitting in a field between Japanese artillery and guns firing from Corregidor and Ft. Drum. Shells began landing among the POWs who had no place to hide. Some of the POWs were killed from incoming American shells. The American guns did succeed at knocking out three of the four Japanese guns.
The POWs were ordered to move again by the Japanese. Paul and the other men had no idea that they had started what became known as the death march. During the march he received no water and little food. At San Fernando, he was put into a small wooden boxcar and taken to Capas. From Capas, Paul walked the last few miles to Camp O' Donnell.
was an unfinished Filipino Army Base. There
was only one water faucet for 12,000 POWs.
Men stood for days for a drink of water.
Some died while waiting for their drink.
Disease in the camp was out of control resulting
with as many as 50 POWs dying each day. The
situation got so bad in the camp that the Japanese
opened a new camp at Cabanatuan.
After the war, the remains of Pvt. Paul Ratay were buried in Plot J, Row 6, Grave 9, at the American Military Cemetery outside Manila. His name also appeared on a memorial headstone for the members of Saint Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church who died in WWII. After the church closed, the headstone was moved to Sacred Heart Catholic Church. in Barberton, Ohio