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.
Traveling west by train, the 192nd arrived in San Francisco. They were then ferried to Angel Island. Over the next several days, Ralph and the other men were given physicals and shots.
Sailing from San Francisco, the tankers arrived in the Philippine Islands after stops in Hawaii and Guam. They were taken to Ft. Stotsenburg where they lived in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.
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 a field hospital, he did not part in the death march. He remained in the hospital for two months until he and other POWs were sent to Manila. It is known that he was sent out on the Las Pinas Work Detail from December 12, 1942, to September 22, 1944. The POW built runways with picks and shovels. 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.
Ralph was sent to Formosa on the hell ship the Hokusen Maru on October 3, 1944. The voyage lasted until October 11th when it arrived at Hong Kong. The ship sailed again arriving at Takao, Formosa on November 11th. The POWs were held in the ships holds until those POWs who were the sickest disembarked.
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 Handy Pike, Kentucky. He was buried at Spring Hill Cemetery in Harrodsburg.