Sgt. Raymond Phillip Mason
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
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. His company was designated as B Company of the 192nd Tank Battalion. During this training, Ray became a tank commander.
In the late summer of 1941, Ray continued his training during maneuvers in Louisiana. The battalion was then sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana, 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.
From Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, Ray and the other members of B Company sailed for the Philippine Islands. As the ship arrived in Hawaii, Ray and Jim Bashleben stood at its railing watching the American fighter planes overhead. The planes flew low over the ship for identification purposes. Ray looked at Jim Bashleben and said to him that that Pearl Harbor was buttoned up so tight that there was no way anyone could attack it. This was in early November 1941.
Ray and the other tankers received leaves to go ashore. Jim 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.
As they stood at the bar, Ray and Jim got into a conversation with two sailors. The sailors began to tell them that they were receiving training in identifying aircraft. The sailors stated that cardboard cut outs of planes were shown to them and that they had to identify if the plane was American or German.
Ray and Bashleben asked the sailors why they weren't being trained to identify Japanese planes. One of the sailors said to him that all the Japanese had were paper covered bi-planes left over from World War I.
B Company with the rest of the 192nd arrived in the Philippines on Thanksgiving Day, 1941. On December 8, 1941, after hearing the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Ray and the other tankers were sent to the perimeter of Clark Field to prevent the Japanese from using paratroopers against the airfield.
When the Japanese attack on Clark Field began, Ray and Jim Bashleben in an halftrack with Zenon Bardowski. Bardowski and Bashleben were shooting 50 caliber machine guns at the Zeros, Japanese Zeros. Bashleben heard Ray say, "I guess these are those papered covered wooden propeller bi-planes the sailor in Hawaii was talking about!"
Three weeks later, Ray and his tank crew were involved in an engagement with the Japanese at Tarlac. While engaged in battle with the Japanese, Ray's tank was disabled when it hit a landmine and lost one of its tracks. Unable to move, Ray's tank was cut off from its support troops during the battle. Ray and the other three members of his crew, Sgt. Walter Mahr and Pvts. Quincey Humphries, and LD Marrs, were ordered out of their tank by the Japanese. When they got out of the tank, they expected to be taken prisoners. Instead, they were ordered to run by the Japanese. As they ran, all four men were machine gunned.
Sgt. Raymond P. Mason was killed on 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 B Company, 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.