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Ralph Ohley Osborne

West Virginia
Veterans Memorial

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Ralph Ohley Osborne
1918-1945

“Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death.”

General Omar Bradley

Marine Private First Class Ralph Ohley Osborne was born in Clear Fork, Raleigh County, West Virginia, on April 27, 1918, to Burns and Bertha Osborne. Burns and Bertha’s family consisted of sons Enoch, Ralph, Johnnie, Harold L., and Robert E. and daughters Memphis, Fannie, Elsie, Daisy, and Pricilla M. Pfc. Osborne also had a stepsister, Ethel.

Ralph Osborne attended Ameagle Elementary School and Clear Fork High School from 1926 through 1937. On May 22, 1937, he married Pauline Ann Lewis, who was born in Dearborn, Michigan, but had been living in Ameagle. Pauline and Ralph had two sons, Tommie R. (b. May 22, 1938—his parents’ first anniversary) and Ronald B. (Ronnie, b. August 8, 1941).

While neither son has a strong, clear memory of his father, Ronnie acquired a signature [autograph] book from his father’s Clear Fork days and from it learned his father played football at the school and participated in Boy Scouts. Ronnie says that a lot of what he knows about Ralph came about because “I hung around with my grandparents.” One of the traditions passed down by his family was that his father’s great-grandfather fought under General George McClellan in the Civil War. Ronnie still has the notice explaining the benefits he, his mother, and brother would receive after his father’s death, and he says, “It wasn’t much.” Although older than Ronnie, Tommie had less to prod his recollections, but says that one of his childhood memories involves a train trip from Whitesville in Boone County to Ameagle, and while he remembers the train ride, he doesn’t remember his father, although obviously Ralph was present.

With the advent of the World War II, Ralph Osborne enlisted in the Marines. Assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 29th Regiment, 6th Marine Division, he was sent to the Asian Theater. His brother Harold had joined the Navy, and, according to Ronnie, the two actually met on a Pacific island sometime during the war. According to the “official” record, on June 20, 1945, Pfc. Osborne was killed by gunfire on the island of Okinawa when he was hit by a Japanese sniper. Ronnie believes his father may have been killed on one of the smaller islands that surround Okinawa. Pfc. Osborne received a Purple Heart for his actions.

According to a Marine Corps website, the invasion of Okinawa began on April 1, 1945, and, after 11 weeks of fierce fighting, was over on June 20. [Ironically, it was on this date that Pfc. Osborne met his death—the last day of the Okinawa fighting.] The Okinawa campaign was one of the longest and hardest of World War II. U. S. casualties were estimated at over 49,000, with 12,500 killed or missing. Japanese losses were estimated at 60,000, while approximately 150,000 Okinawans (one third of the population) died during the siege. It would be just two months until the final surrender of the Japanese. (Source: “A Blend of Past and Present,” III Marine Expeditionary Force: Marine Corps Installations Pacific, http://www.marines.mil/unit/mcbjapan/Pages/About/History.aspx [accessed Dec. 7, 2011].)

After Ralph’s death, Pauline married Marcus Carr, and Ronnie reports that he eventually had three half-sisters—Rebecca, Elizabeth, and Tammy. The children grew up in Seth, Boone County, where they attended elementary school and then went on to Sherman High School. Tommie would spend some time in the service himself and later worked for International Harvester. As of this writing (2011), he lives in the Chicago area. Ronnie lives in the Cleveland area, where he worked for General Motors for many years.

Ralph Ohley Osborne’s remains were eventually returned to the States, and he was buried in Ameagle Cemetery in Clear Fork.

Information and photo provided by Ralph Ohley Osborne’s sister, Pricilla DeRaimo, and his sons Tommy and Ronnie. Article by Patricia Richards McClure

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