Folder 1: Ralph L. "Lee" Minker, Jr., February - April 9, 1943

Basic Training, Miami Beach 

The first six weeks of letters have days of the week but no date.  They have been arranged in the most probable sequence based on the content and comments in the family’s letters.  Dates in brackets are the most likely, given the exchange of content. A few of the dates differ from those in the book, An American Family in World War II, which was written in 2005.

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Ralph L. "Lee" Minker, Jr.'s first letter homeDate: Sunday noon, [February 28, 1943] - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Miami Beach, FL
Minker’s first impressions of Army life. Saw Glenn L. Martin airplane plant and airfield outside of Baltimore en route to basic training in Miami. Picking up gear, assignment to hotels, six in a room.
Names: Stowell and Springer, Michels [Dickinson College]

 

Date: Tuesday evening, [March 2, 1943] - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Shirley Minker
Place: Miami Beach, FL
Lee is trying to quickly adapt to army life, but complains about the lack of preparation.  First review, in the boiling sun. Has first GI haircut [see scrapbook photo, p. 4]. Asks mother to rush him some basic articles.  .

 

Date: Wednesday night,  [March 3, 1943] - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Miami Beach, FL
Lee is lonely and frustrated with training and the news that basic training will be 8 weeks instead of 4.  Reports on trouble with his leg after marching. [Football injury from high school.] New program will have them spend 5 months in college after basic.

 

Date: Friday evening, [March 5, 1943] - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Miami Beach, FL
Beginning to toughen up after all the drilling. Describes marching, the songs they sing.  Comments on the many colleges and part of the US represented by the soldiers he is with.

 

Date: Sunday night,  [March 7, 1943] - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Miami Beach, FL
Moved from the Coral Reef Hotel to the well-appointed Atlantis Hotel. Had their first free time, meet several boys from Dickinson. Had pictures taken [see p. 4 of scrapbook].

 

Date: Tuesday night,  [March 9, 1943] - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Shirely Minker
Place: Miami Beach, FL
His sister’s letter cheered him up, he had received only a few letters while writing over twenty. Describes their sergeant who was in Corregidor, pleased with the leadership.  Grappling with loneliness as expressed by efforts to stay connected with friends and family…”hoping for a deluge of letters soon.” 
Names: Master Sergeant Ross

 

Date: Saturday evening, [March 13, 1943] - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Miami Beach, FL
Description of army life covers physical training, KP duty, swimming, and an insipid talk by Quentin Reynolds.  For the first time is impressed with the army when secretary of war and Air Corps chief reviewed their parade.
Names: Secretary of War Harold Stimson, General “Hap” Arnold. 

 

Date: Sunday noon, [March 14, 1943] - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Miami Beach, FL
Disgusted with army inefficiency as they had to move hotels after only 3 hours sleep. Pleased with the officers. Found KP monotonous.  Everyone is feeling homesick.

 

Date: Wednesday night, [March 17, 1943] - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Miami Beach, FL
Complains about mail delivery largely because of changes in address.  Reports of more tests, pictures, washing clothes.  Admonishes Shirley to review his algebra book.

 

On Friday, March 20 Lee Minker was stricken with an unknown illness.

Date: Monday morning, [March 22, 1943] - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Ralph Minker
Place: Miami Beach, FL
Lee reports he is in the hospital with a temperature and a rash.  Has concern for his mother, asks dad not to tell her.  Does not want to be delayed, hopes he will be able to rejoin his squadron.

 

Date: Wednesday night,  [March 31, 1943] - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Miami Beach, FL
Returning to duty after stay in the hospital. Aware that his letters may be upsetting to the family. Reports back on letters from friends and events she shared. Once again, he is bored and concerned about getting back to his flight unit. Will be shipping out soon.  

 

Date: Thursday night, [April 1, 1943] - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Miami Beach, FL
Shares news of friends he has heard from. Asks for some good jokes to lighten their mood.  

 

Date: Thursday night,  [April 1, 1943] - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Miami Beach, FL
Lee’s flight [class], #629 was shipped out.  Lets the family know he won’t be able to write during shipping .  Realizes that he is complaining and criticizing, assures the family he is OK.  Reports on pay arrangements and letters he has received. Unsure of why he got sick.
Names: Billy Jim Tawes, Bill Hyde [Dickinson]

 

Date: Sunday evening, [April 4, 1943] - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Miami Beach, FL
Gives mother a report of his illness and being in the hospital, downplaying the symptoms. In a waiting phase for new shipping. Congratulates his parents on their wedding anniversary [March 31].

 

Date: [Friday, April 9, 1943] - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Miami Beach, FL
Scrawled, hurried note to let the family know he was leaving for a new assignment, further basic training either at U. of Nebraska or Creighton.  They have not been paid, asks for $10.

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