Pfc. Ralph L. Stine was born on July 28, 1921 in Washington
County, Kentucky. to Orville and Sadie Dean-Stine, and 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
In the late summer of 1941, Ralph took part in
maneuvers in Louisiana from September 1st
through 30th, 1941. Men 29 years old or
older were given the opportunity to resign from
federal service. After the maneuvers, he
and the rest of his battalion learned they were
being sent overseas as part of operation
PLUM. Within hours most had figured
out that PLUM was an acronym that stood for
Philippines, Luzon, Manila.
The decision to send the 192nd overseas -
which had been made in August 1941 - was the
result of an event that took place in the summer
of 1941. A squadron of American fighters
was flying over Lingayen Gulf, in the
Philippines, when one of the pilots, who was
flying at a lower altitude, noticed something
odd. He took his plane down and identified
a flagged buoy in the water and saw another in
the distance. He came upon more buoys that
lined up, in a straight line for 30 miles to the
northwest, in the direction of an Japanese
occupied island which was hundred of miles
away. The island had a large radio
transmitter. The squadron continued its
flight plan south to Mariveles and returned to
When the planes landed, it
was too late to do anything that day. The
next day, when another squadron was sent to the
area, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing
boat - with a tarp on its deck - which was seen
making its way to shore. Since
communication between the Air Corps and Navy was
difficult, the boat escaped. It was at
that time the decision was made to build up the
American military presence in the Philippines.
Ralph and the other soldiers
received furloughs home to say their goodbyes
and when they returned to Camp Polk, they loaded
their tanks onto flat cars. The
battalion's new tanks were M3s "Stuart" Tanks
which came from the 753rd Tank Battalion.
The soldiers also cosmolined anything that they
thought would rust. Over different train
routes, the companies were sent to San
Francisco, California, where they were ferried,
by the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe,
to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the
island, they were given physicals by the
battalion's medical detachment and men found
with minor medical conditions were held on the
island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at
a later date. Other men were simply
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Gen.
Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday,
October 27th. During this part of the
trip, many tankers had seasickness, but once
they recovered they spent much of the time
training in breaking down machine guns, cleaning
weapons, and doing KP. They arrived
at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd and
had a two day layover, so the soldiers were
given shore leave so they could see the island.
On Wednesday, November 5th,
the ship sailed for Guam but took a southerly
route away from the main shipping lanes.
It was at this time it was joined by, the heavy
cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville and, the
transport, S.S. President Calvin Coolidge.
Sunday night, November 9th, the soldiers went to
bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was
Tuesday, November 11th. During the night,
while they slept, the ships had crossed the
International Date Line. On Saturday,
November 15th, smoke from an unknown ship was
seen on the horizon. The Louisville revved
up its engines, its bow came out of the water,
and it shot off in the direction of the
smoke. It turned out the smoke was from a
ship that belonged to a friendly country.
When they arrived at Guam on
Sunday, November 16th, the ships took on water,
bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing
for Manila the next day. At one point, the
ships passed an island at night and did so in
total blackout. This for many of the
soldiers was a sign that they were being sent
into harm's way. The ships entered Manila
Bay, at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20th,
and docked at Pier 7 later that morning.
At 3:00 P.M., most of the soldiers were taken by
bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. Those who drove
trucks drove them to the fort, while the
maintenance section remained behind at the pier
to unload the tanks.
At the fort, the tankers were
met by Colonel Edward P. King, who 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 live in tents. The fact was he had
not learned of their arrival until days before
they arrived. He made sure that they had
Thanksgiving Dinner before he left to have his
The members of the battalion
pitched the tents in an open field halfway
between the Clark Field Administration Building
and Fort Stotsenburg. The tents were set
up in two rows and five men were assigned to
each tent. There were two supply tents and
meals were provided by food trucks stationed at
the end of the rows of tents.
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.
After arriving in the
Philippines, the process was begun to transfer D
Company to the 194th Tank Battalion, which had
left for the Philippines minus one
company. B Company of the battalion was
sent to Alaska while the remaining companies of
the battalion were sent to the
Philippines. The medical clerk for
the192nd spent weeks organizing records to be
handed over to the 194th.
On December 1st, the tank
battalions were ordered to the perimeter of
Clark Field to guard against Japanese
paratroopers. The 194th, with D Company,
was assigned northern part of the airfield and
the 192nd guarded the southern half. Two
members of each tank and half-track crew
remained with their vehicles at all times.
The morning of December 8,
1941, just ten hours after the Japanese attack
on Pearl Harbor, the company was brought up to
full strength at the perimeter of Clark
Field. All morning long, the sky was
filled with American planes. At noon the
planes landed to be refueled and the pilots went
At 12:45, two formations
totaling 54 planes approached the airfield from
the north. When bombs began exploding on
the runways, they knew tha planes were
Japanese. Being that their tanks could not
fight planes, they watched as the Japanese
destroyed the American Army Air Corps.
When the Japanese were
finished, there was not much left of the
airfield. The soldiers watched as the
dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the
hospital on bomb racks, trucks, and anything
that could carry the wounded was in use.
When the hospital filled, they watched the
medics place the wounded under the
building. Many of these men had their arms
and legs missing.
That night, most men slept
under their tanks since it was safer than
sleeping in their tents. They had no idea
that they had slept their last night in a bed.
One of the results of the
attack was that transfer of D Company, to the
194th, was never completed. The company
retained its designation of being part of the
192nd for both the Battle of Luzon and Bataan.
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.
One of the results of the attack was that
transfer of D Company, to the 194th, was never
completed. The company retained its
designation of being part of the 192nd for both
the Battle of Luzon and Bataan.
The companies were moved
again on the 12th to south of San Fernando near
the Calumpit Bridge arriving there at 6:00
A.M. On December 13th, the
tankers were moved 80 kilometers from Clark
Field to do reconnaissance and guard
beaches. The battalion received
15 Bren gun carriers but turned some
over to the 26th Cavalry, Philippine
Scouts on the 15th. The carriers
were used to test the ground to see if
it could support tanks.
On December 22nd, the
companies were operating north of the Agno River
and after the main bridge was bombed, on
December 24/25, made an end tun to get south of
the river and not be trapped by the
Japanese. The tanks held the south bank of
the river from west of Carmen to the
Carmen-Akcaka-Bautista Road with the 192nd
holding the bank east of Carmen to Tayug
(northeast of San Quintin).
Christmas Day, the
tankers spent in a coconut grove. As it
turned out, the coconuts were all they had to
eat. From Christmas to January 15, 1942,
both day and night, all the tanks did was cover
retreats of different infantry units. The
tanks were constantly bombed, shelled, and
The tanks formed a new
defensive held the Santa Ignacia-Gerona-Santo
Tomas- San Jose line on December 26th.
When they dropped back from the line, all the
platoons withdrew, except one which provided
cover, as the other platoons from the
area. One tank went across the line
receiving fire and firing on the Japanese.
At Bayambang, Lt. Petree's
platoon lost a tank. It was at this time
that D Company, 192nd, lost all their tanks,
except one, because the bridge they were suppose
to cross had been destroyed. The company
commander, Lt. Jack Altman, could not bring
himself to totally destroy the tanks, and the
Japanese repaired them and used them on
Bataan. The sergeant of the one tank, that
had not abandoned, found a place to ford the
river a few hundred yards from the bridge.
The tankers were at Santo
Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and at
San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th
and 29th. On January 1st, conflicting
orders were received by the defenders who were
attempting to stop the Japanese advance down
Route 5. Doing this would allow the
Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward
Bataan. General Wainwright was unaware of
the orders since they came from Gen. MacArthur's
chief of staff.
Because of the orders, there
was confusion among the Filipinos and American
forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga
River. Due to the efforts of the Self
Propelled Mounts, the 71st Field Artillery, and
a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion
the Japanese were halted. From January 2nd
to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San
Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces
At 2:30 A.M., the night of
January 5th/6th, the Japanese attacked at Remlus
in force and using smoke as cover. This
attack was an attempt to destroy the tank
battalions. At 5:00 A.M., the Japanese
withdrew having suffered heavy casualties.
The night of January 6th/7th
the tanks withdrew into the peninsula with the
192nd holding its position so that the 194th
Tank Battalion could leap frog past it, cross
the bridge, and then cover the 192nd's withdraw
over the bridge. The 192nd was the last
American unit to enter Bataan, before the
engineers blew up the bridge at 6:00 A.M.
It was at this time that the tank companies were
reduced to three tanks each. This was done
to provide tanks to D Company, while those crews
still without tanks were used as replacements,
The tankers fell back to the BamBan 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
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.
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.
At Gumain River, on January
5th, D Company and C Company, 194th, were given
the job to hold the south riverbank so that the
other units could withdraw. The tank
companies formed a defensive line along the bank
of the river. When the Japanese attacked
the position at night, they were easy to see
since they were wearing white t-shirts.
The tankers were able to hold up the Japanese.
The night of January 6/7, the
194th, covered by the 192nd, crossed the bridge
over the Culis Creek and entered Bataan.
Afterwards, the 192nd crossed the bridge before
it was destroyed by the engineers. This
was the beginning of the Battle of Bataan.
At this time, the food rations were cut in half.
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.
General Weaver also issued
the following orders to the tank battalions
around this time.
"Tanks will execute maximum delay, staying
in position and firing at visible enemy
until further delay will jeopardize
withdrawal. If a tank is immobilized,
it will be fought until the close approach
of the enemy, then destroyed; the crew
previously taking positions outside and
continuing to fight with the salvaged and
personal weapons. Considerations of personal
safety and expediency will not interfere
with accomplishing the greatest possible
A composite tank
company was created on January 8th under the
command of Capt. Donald Haines, B Company,
192nd, and sent to defend the Wast Coast Road
north of Hermosa. Its job was to keep the
north road open and prevent the Japanese from
driving down the road before a new battle line
had been formed. The Japanese never
lunched an attack allowing the defensive line to
be formed. The tanks withdrew after they
began receiving artillery fire.
The remainder of the tanks
were ordered to bivouac south of the
Aubucay-Hacienda Road. While there, the
tank crews had their first break from action in
nearly a month. The tanks, which were long
overdue for maintenance, were serviced by 17th
Ordnance. It was also at this time that
tank platoons were reduced to ren tanks, with
three tanks in each platoon. This was done
so that D Company, 192nd, would have tanks.
The 194th was sent to reopen
the Moron Road so that General Segunda's forces,
which were trapped behind enemy lines, could
withdraw. Attempting to do this two tanks
were knocked out by landmines planted by
ordnance, but recovered, and a Japanese
anti-tank gun was destroyed. The mission
was abandoned the next day. Gen. Segunda's
forces escaped but lost their heavy equipment.
The next action the tanks saw
was on the 20th when they were sent to relieve
the 31st Infantry's command post. On the
24th, the tanks were ordered to the Hacienda
Road to support infantry, but again could not
accomplish their mission because of landmines
planted by ordnance.
The 194th was holding a
position a kilometer north of the Pilar-Bagac
Road on January 26th with four self-propelled
mounts. At 9:45 A.M., a Filipino came down
the road and warned the battalion that a large
Japanese force was coming down the road.
When they appeared the tanks opened up on them.
At 10:30, the Japanese withdrew having lost 500
of 1200 men. This action prevented the new
line of defense from being breached.
On January 28th, the tank
battalions were given the job of guarding the
beaches so that the Japanese couldn't land
troops. The 194th guarded the coastline
from Limay to Cabcaban. During the day,
the tanks hid under the jungle canopy. At
bight they were pulled out onto the
beaches. The battalion's half-tracks had
the job of patrolling the roads. At all times,
the tanks were in contact with on-shore and
For most of March, the
situation Bataan was relatively quiet and the
Japanese had been fought to a standstill.
On one occasion, two tanks had gotten stuck in
the mud, and the crews were working to free
them. While they were doing this, a
Japanese regiment entered the area. Lt.
Colonel Ernest Miller ordered his tanks to fire
on the Japanese at point blank range. He
also ran from tank to tank directing the crew's
fire. The Japanese were wiped out.
Having brought in combat
harden troops from Singapore, the Japanese
lunched a major offensive on April 4th.
The tanks were sent to various sectors in an
attempt to stop the advance. On the 6th,
four tanks were sent to support the 45th
Philippine Infantry, Philippine Scouts. One tank
was knocked out from anti-tank fire at the
junctions of Trails 6 & 8, and the other
tanks withdrew. On April 8th, the 194th
was fighting on the East Coast Road at Cabcaban.
It was at this time that Gen.
King knowing that the situation was hopeless
sent officers to negotiate. The tanks were
instructed that they would hear the order "bash"
on their radios, or that it would be given to
When the order was given, the
tankers circled their tanks, fired an armor
piercing shell into the engine of the tank in
front, opened up the gasoline cocks in the crew
compartment, and drop hand grenades into each
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 knew
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
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 Enoshima Maru
on January 25, 1945. The POWs were put in
a hold containing hemp, but they quickly
discovered that under the hemp were bags of
sugar and canned tomatoes. The POWs helped
themselves to the canned tomatoes. The
ship arrived in Japan on January 30th and the
POWs disembarked and marched to a
schoolhouse. Arriving there, they were
stripped of their clothing since they were
infested with lice and deloused.
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, drain a lake, work in steel mills, and
worked in warehouses.
During his time in the camp,
the treatment of the POWs improved when a new
commandant took over the camp. As the war
came closer to ending, the POWs received shoes
and Japanese Army uniforms.
One day a British POW entered
the camp and told the men that the war was
over. The prisoners decided that they were
going to test this information. The guards
were standing nearby, but their guns were
leaning against a building. The POWs
rushed the guns and so did the guards.
After a short struggle, the guards let go of the
guns and left. To the POW's this was the
first proof that the war was over. When
the Japanese gave the POWs beer, they knew the
war was over. On August 19th, the camp
commandant officially told them the war had
ended. When American planes appeared and
started to drop them supplies, the prisoners'
belief was confirmed.
Ralph was liberated from this camp in September
10, 1945, and returned to the Philippines for
medical treatment. He was boarded onto the
U.S.A.T. Gen. R. L. Howze, which sailed on
September 23rd and arrived in San Francisco on
October 16th, ten days short of four years since
Ralph had left for the Philippines. In San
Francisco, he was held at Letterman General
Hospital until he was sent to another hospital
closer 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.