|Sgt. Raymond Phillip Mason
Sgt. Raymond P. Mason was born in May 1917 and lived
at 112 South 11th Avenue in Maywood, Illinois.
He and his sister were the children of Katherine and
Harold Mason. His mother would later marry, Carl
Bergstrom, and Ray would have a half-sister and
half-brother from this marriage. Ray attended
both Washington and Emerson Grade Schools, in Maywood,
and was a member of the Proviso Township High School
Class of 1935. After high school, he worked as a
desk clerk at John Ollier Engraving company in
Raymond enlisted in the Illinois National Guard and
went with the Maywood Tank Company for training at
Fort Knox, Kentucky, in November 1940, when the
company was called to federal duty. Before he
left for Kentucky, he got engaged to Bernise
Hengstler and planned to marry after his one year of
service. At Ft. Knox, his company was
designated as B Company of the 192nd Tank Battalion.
In the late summer of 1941, Ray continued his
training during maneuvers in Louisiana from
September 1 through 30. The battalion was sent
to Camp Polk, Louisiana, after the maneuvers, and
learned that they were being sent overseas to the
Philippine Islands. Ray and the other members
of the company were given leaves home to say goodbye
to their families and friends. Ray had planned
to marry, Bernice Hengstler, but changed the
wedding plans when he learned he was going overseas.
The reason for this move was an event that took
place in the summer of 1941. A squadron of
American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf 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 that a large radio
transmitter. The island was hundred of miles
away. The squadron continued its flight plan
and flew south to Mariveles before returning to
Clark Field. When the planes landed, it was
too late to do anything that day.
During their time on the island, Sgt. Jim Bashelben and Ray went into the
tavern district of Honolulu that served military
personnel. As they were walking, Ray heard a
song playing in one of the taverns. He told
Jim that it was his favorite song and that he wanted
to listen to it. Jim and Ray went into the bar
so he could listen to it.
When the Japanese attack on Clark Field began, Ray and Jim Bashleben were in an half-track with Zenon Bardowski. Bardowski and Bashleben were shooting 50 caliber machine guns at the Japanese Zeros. Bashleben heard Ray say, "I guess these are those papered covered wooden propeller bi-planes the sailor in Hawaii was talking about!"
The tank battalion received orders on December 21
that it was to proceed north to Lingayen Gulf.
Because of logistics problems, the B and C
Companies soon ran low on gas. When they
reached Rosario, there was only enough for one tank
platoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support
the 26th Cavalry.
Three weeks later, Ray and his tank were involved in
an engagement with the Japanese at Tarlac. The
tankers were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on
December 27, and at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan
on December 28 and 29.
Sgt. Raymond P. Mason was killed on Monday, December 29, 1941, at the age of 24, while attempting to escape from the Japanese. The other three members of the tank crew were wounded but made it into a sugarcane field and hid. Two of the men were later captured by the Japanese, while the third was recovered by American forces. According to U.S. Army records, Sgt. Raymond Mason was buried by the Japanese.
Since his final resting place is unknown, Sgt. Raymond P. Mason's name appears on The Tablets of the Missing at the American Cemetery outside of Manila. He was awarded the Purple Heart, the Presidential Unit Citation and the Gold Star Citation.
After the war, a member of Ray's tank crew, LD Marrs, who was from Texas, came to Maywood and told Ray's mother how Ray was killed. It was this information about his death that was used to write his biography.