Pvt. Paul A. Ratay
Pvt. Paul A. Ratay was the son of Julia Hruska-Ratay and John Ratay and 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 training he received or 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 ordered to Camp Polk,
Louisiana, and informed that it was being sent
overseas. Those members of the battalion 29
years old or older, or married, were given the
opportunity to be reassigned to the 753rd Tank
Battalion. To replace these men, members of
the 753rd had their names drawn to fill the
vacancies in the 192nd.
Traveling west over four different train routes,
the 192nd arrived in San Francisco, California,
where they were ferried to Angel Island.
Once on the island, the battalion members received
physicals and inoculations. Those found to
have medical minor conditions were held back and
scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later
date. Some men were simply replaced. A
few days later they boarded a transport bound for
the Philippine Islands.
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.
the attack on Clark Field, Paul and the other men
in HQ Company could do little but take
cover. After the attack, they and the other
men saw the carnage that had been done.
HQ, B, and C Companies
B and C
ran low on
B Company, to
to support the
HQ Company finally boarded trucks and drove to just outside of Mariveles. From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and were ordered to sit. As they sat, the POWs 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 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. As he was driving away, the 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 and had no idea that they had started
what became known as the death march. During
the march he received no water and little
food. When they reached San Fernando, they
were put in a bull pen and left there in the
sun. They remained there until ordered to
form 100 men detachments. Once this was
done, they were marched to the train station and
put into a small wooden boxcars
used to haul sugarcane.
was an unfinished Filipino Army Base that the
Japanese put into use as a POW camp. 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 that the Japanese opened a
new camp at Cabanatuan.
After the war, the remains of Pvt. Paul Ratay were buried identified and reburied 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