Folder 7: Ralph L. "Lee" Minker, Jr., July - September, 1944

Operational training with the crew at Gulfport Army Airfield, Gulfport, Mississippi

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Ralph L. "Lee" Minker, Jr., 1944, Scrapbook Page 27

Date: Monday evening, July 3, 1944 - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Shirley Minker
Place: Tampa, FL
Received shipping orders for Gulfport, MS. Met co-pilot.  Ants ate the contents of his birthday package. Send news of home.
Names: Arthur D. Rohl [co-pilot who got sick and was replaced by Gordon Dodge.]

 

Date: Sunday evening, July 9, 1944 - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Gulfport, MS
First pilot and commander of crew #156, his job to prepare for combat. Identifies the crew, navigator and bombardier to arrive later. Description of Gulfport Army Air Field.  Recognizes responsibility of leadership. Well-equipped base with combat instructors. Plans for final staging. List of winter clothing they need to send. Questions about life at home. 
Names: Arthur D. Rohl, co-pilot; James E. Shannon, aerial engineer; Max G. Shepherd, assistant radio operator; Donald W. Miller, assistant aerial engineer; Roman Michalacean, assistant aerial gunner. 

 

Date: Thursday noon, July 13, 1944 - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Gulfport, MS
Relieved to be back at work, had to re-learn flying fundamentals.  Will not be doing much night flying, crew members have to be checked out in their specialty, engineering ground school. 
Names: Lt. Dickey [flight instructor]

 

Date: Tuesday evening, July 18, 1944 - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Shirley Minker
Place: Gulfport, MS
Happy to receive family letters and their news. Comments on Dorman and his coaching. Alternating a day of flying with ground school, pressure is increasing, had to make an emergency landing, which gave the crew more confidence in him. Will get rid of Michalacean for poor attitude.
Names: Dutchy Dorman [manager of the Wilmington Blue Rocks]

 

Date: Tuesday noon, July 25, 1944 - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Gulfport, MS
Schedule is wearing them down, high altitude gunnery missions.  Instrument training in the Link trainer.  Requests a copy of poem Bernice had published in high school newspaper.  More questions about home.

 

Date: Friday noon, July 28, 1944 - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Gulfport, MS
Operational training has emphasis on long flights, P-40s make simulated attacks, B-26s tow targets to test gunnery accuracy. Suggests using German POWs to help at the Ferris School.

 

Date: Wednesday evening, August 2, 1944 - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Gulfport, MS
Had the last of the shots, amount of pay.  Crew up to full strength.  Asks for a radio.
Names: John J. Rosiala, bombardier; Mark Pitts, navigator; John Trambley, tail gunner

 

Date: Friday evening, August 4, 1944 - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Gulfport, MS
Worried about his dad being worn out with war bond drive, begs him to take a vacation. Discusses Shirley’s options for school and voice lessons.  Comments on future of Dickinson College. Training is on schedule, sending money home. 

 

Date: Monday evening, August 7, 1944 - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Gulfport, MS
Hot weather and moisture are not good flying weather. Questions about events at home, behind in correspondence to others.
Names: Dick Rhoads from Wilmington

 

Date: Thursday evening, August 10, 1944 - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Shirley Minker
Place: Gulfport, MS
Mid-way through operational training, rumors about departure.  Questions about the family and the summer plans. 

 

Date: Wednesday evening, August 16, 1944 - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Gulfport, MS
Sisters performing in Brandywiners.  Unable to get film, wants copies of his old pictures. War moving in our favor, perhaps will not be sent to European Theatre.  Training schedule. 

 

Date: Friday afternoon, August 25, 1944 - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Gulfport, MS
Assures mother he is fine but busy. Long flights at night, crew required to log 150 - 195 hours.  Thinks war in Europe will end this winter, curious about orders, eager to help win the war.  Sent money orders home. 

 

Date: Tuesday noon, August 29, 1944 - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Gulfport, MS
Practiced emergency procedures.  Crew almost finished with requirements, 130 flying hours.  Congratulations on winning scholarship to Tower Hill High School. Homesick for his dog, Ginger, and her pups.  Questions about Blue Rocks and events at home. 
Names: Mike Zographone

 

Date: Wednesday noon, September 6, 1944 - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Gulfport, MS
Reflective about last three years and what he has learned from the experiences. Army dentist replaced all his fillings.  Suggests overhaul of the garden including a drawing. Sent a money order.  Will take a picture with the crew soon. 

 

Date: Wednesday noon, September 6, 1944 - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Gulfport, MS
Repeat of information in Sept. 6 letter to mother.

 

Date: Monday evening, September 11, 1944 - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Gulfport, MS
Picturing his sisters at home getting ready for college. Admonishes her to help mother and grandmother. Recommends movie A Wing and a Prayer.  Life is uneventful. 

 

Date: Sunday noon, September 17, 1944 - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Gulfport, MS
Confusion in getting call through, plans to ship on Sept. 23 for final staging at Hunter Field. Will not know destination and will not be able to write. Talks about finances. Sending home letters and flying manuals.  Requests they use V-mail, describes code he will use so that can tell where he is based. Plans to ask Julia [Taylor] to be his wife. 

 

Date: Friday evening, September 29, 1944 - view letter
Writer: Lee Minker  
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Gulfport, MS
Frets about delay in schedule.  Describes journey from Gulfport to Hunter Field, leaving Sept. 23. Co-pilot Lt. Arthur D. Rohl became seriously ill and was replaced by Flight Officer Gordon B. Dodge—he will be a good replacement but losing Rohl was a blow.  Gives first impression of Savannah.  Tells his father that he must be careful with information now that he is going into combat.  Hopes to “buzz home” on his way to embarkation at Bangor, Maine.


2nd Lieutenant Ralph Lee Minker departed Hunter Field, Georgia, on Wednesday, October 4, 1944.  With his crew they flew a B-17 to Wales, flying up the east coast of the U.S. and over Wilmington on their way to England.  By telephone he was able to alert the family to his departure, see Edna Minker’s letter of October 7, 1944. They arrived at Rattlesden Army Air Force Base on October 13, 1944.  

Lee Minker's first letter from England was written on October 18, 1944.

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