Pfc. Ralph Lee Stine
| Pfc. Ralph Lee Stine
was born on July 28, 1921, in Washington County,
Kentucky, to Orville and Sadie Dean-Stine.
He had seven brothers and one sister. The
family resided on Main Street in Burgin, Kentucky.
Ralph joined the Kentucky National Guard on December 5, 1939, in Harrodsburg. He was working as a farmhand when his tank company was called to federal duty on November 25, 1940. During the next year, Ralph trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he qualified as a tank driver. His company was now known as D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.
In the late summer of 1941, Ralph took part in
maneuvers in Louisiana. After the
maneuvers, he and the rest of his battalion
learned they were being sent overseas.
Ralph and the other soldiers received leaves
home to say their goodbyes.
It was during this time that D Company was attached to the 194th Tank Battalion to give each tank battalion three companies. An official transfer to the battalion never took place when war came on December 8, 1941.
That night the tanks left Clark Field. Ralph and other tankers were sent to Maracot. The tanks were set up along the bank of a river. During this time, little happened, but the tankers were strafed a few times by Japanese planes.
The tankers were next moved to Manalupa. They remained there for a week and a half. During this time, the Japanese landed troops at Lingayen Gulf. Marcus and the other tankers were sent to Lingayen Gulf in support of B Company which had already been sent there.
It was from this time on that Ralph's tank and the other tankers played hit and run with the Japanese. They did this until they got to Guagua. There, they stayed for three days until the Japanese made it so dangerous that they pulled out. As they left, the town was literally burning down around them. Shells were landing in the street and bouncing down it.
The tankers fell back to the BamBam River and lined up along the bank. They thought they were safe there. Other tanks pulled in behind them around midnight. It was sometime after their arrival that the shooting started. It was at this time that Lt. Petree, Ralph's platoon commander was wounded. According to Ralph, he heard Petree moan after getting shot and than Petree was shot a second time. In an attempt to get Petree to a hospital, Ralph attempted to get his tank around the other tanks. His tank hit a low spot and ended up on its side. Ralph managed to get out of the tank and joined the crew of Marcus Lawson. Lt. Petree died of his wounds several days later.
The tanks dropped back five miles while under fire. They remained under fire for the next several days. They once again found themselves in a hit and run game with the Japanese. Their main job was to serve as a rear guard covering the withdraws of the other units.
On Bataan, Ralph's tank platoon was assigned to beach duty near the 148th kilometer marker. It was while on this duty that the main defensive line broke. His tank and the other tanks were sent north in an attempt to plug the hole. It was during this attempt that his tank was knocked out by enemy fire.
Ralph and the other men made their way back
toward Mariveles at the southern tip of
Bataan. On April 9, 1942, he became a
Prisoner of War when Bataan was surrendered to
Since Ralph was in Hospital #2 and did not part
in the death march. Japanese
used POWs as a human shield to protect their
artillery firing at Corregidor. The
Americans returned fire until Gen. Johnathan
Wainwright ordered them to stop since he did
not want to kill POWs.
The POW detachment Ralph was in marched to the
Port Area of Manila. Once there, the POW
detachment waited to be boarded onto the Arisan
Maru which was not ready to
sail. Another ship, the Hokusen Maru
was ready to sail, so the Japanese switched the
POW detachments. Ralph's detachment of
POWs were boarded onto the Hokusen Maru
on October 1st. The ship sailed but dropped
anchor at the harbor's breakwater. It
remained there for three days and the
temperatures in the hold rose to over 100
degrees causing some men to go crazy. The
Japanese threatened to kill the POWs if they
didn't quiet the men. To do this, the sane
POWs strangled those out of their minds or hit
them with canteens.
The ships were informed, on October 9th, that
American carriers were seen near Formosa and
sailed for Hong Kong when it was informed
American planes were in the area. The
ships changed course during this part of the
trip and attempted to reach Hong Kong. The
ships ran into American submarines which sank
two more ships.
On Formosa, he was held as a POW at Toroku Camp. He remained on Formosa until he was sent to Japan on the Melbourne Maru on January 14, 1945. The ship arrived in Japan on January 23rd. Ralph was first held as a POW at an unknown camp near Kobi. The POWs in the camp worked in a steel mill. When the camp was bombed out, Ralph was sent to Osaka and Maibara #10-B. The POWs were used to build canals and drain a lake so for food.
Ralph was liberated from this camp in September 1945 and returned to Harrodsburg. For his heroism during the Battle of Bataan, he was awarded three bronze stars. After returning to Harrodsburg, he married Gladys Buckley and was the father of two sons. He worked for and retired from Kentucky Utilities
Ralph L. Stine passed away on March 4, 2003, in rural Harrodsburg, Kentucky. He was buried at Spring Hill Cemetery in Harrodsburg.