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.
    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.  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 Thursday, November 20th the ships arrived at Manila Bay.  After arriving at Manila, it was three or four hours before they disembarked.  The tankers rode buses to the train station where they got out and took a train to Ft. Stostenburg.  Other battalion members boarded their trucks and drove them to fort north of Manila.

    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 the Japanese.

    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.
On May 19th, his name appeared on a roster of what was called the Cabcaben POW Camp  The roster was a list of POWs being transferred from the hospital to Bilibid Prison.  It is known that Ralph was sent to Cabanatuan in June 1942.  Medical records kept at the camp show he was in the hospital on June 12, 1942. 
    At that time Ralph was tested for tuberculosis.  No date of discharge was given.  It is known that he was later sent out on the Las Pinas Work Detail from December 12, 1942, to September 22, 1944.  The POW built runways with picks and shovels.  Recalling his time as a POW, he said, "I never gave up.  Every time six months would roll around, I'd say, Well, it can't be more than another six months."  Recalling the food as a POW he said, "I'd get sweet potato vines and cut 'em up and eat 'em over my rice, because I k
new they good for me.  Boy, I did everything to stay alive."  When the detail ended, Ralph was sent to Bilibid Prison.  He remained there until he was taken to Pier 7 in Manila on October 1, 1944.

    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.
    As part of a ten ship convoy it sailed again on October 4th and stopped at Cabcaban.  The next day, it was at San Fernando La Union, where the ships were joined by four more ships and five escorts. The ships stayed close to the shoreline to prevent submarine attacks which failed since, on October 6th, two of the ships were sunk.

    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. 
    The Hokusen Maru arrived at Hong Kong on October 11th.  While it was in port, American planes bombed the harbor on October 16th.  On October 21st, the ship sailed for Takao, Formosa, arriving on October 24th.
    The POWs were in such bad shape that the Japanese took them ashore, on November 8th, and sent them to Inrin Temporary.  The camp was specifically opened for them and they only did light work and grew vegetables to supplement their diets. Many of the men recovered while in the camp.

    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.


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