From Ralph L. “Lee” Minker, Jr., to the Minker family

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.

Abstract

Date: Sunday noon, [February 28, 1943]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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.

Folder 2: Ralph L. “Lee” Minker, Jr., April 10 – June, 1943

Army Air Corps cadet Pvt. Ralph Lee Minker is assigned to training at University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska, after a brief stop in Sioux City, Iowa.

Abstract

Date: April 10, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Lincoln, NE
Postcard from Lincoln letting the family know he had arrived.

Date: Tuesday morning, [April 13, 1943]
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Lincoln, NE
Gives his youngest sister a description of the long train trip, their arrival, and living arrangements.  There are more than 5,000 soldiers at the U. of Nebraska.  Compare the campus to Dickinson College.  Asks for Julia’s picture.

Date: Tuesday night, [April 13, 1943]
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Lincoln, NE
Detailed time schedule of training and classes, welcome letter from Bernice.

Date: Wednesday night, [April 14, 1943]
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Shirley Minker
Place: Lincoln, NE
Letters received, classes, physical education test, sorority dance and film he is sending home.

Date: Saturday morning, [spring 1943]
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Lincoln, NE
Schedule, advice about the garden.  News of cadets using facilities at [Dickinson College].

Date: Sunday afternoon, [April 18, 1943]
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Lincoln, NE
Several days after the phone call.  Plans for first flight training in the Piper Cub, list of things he needs, asks that they now use airmail. New state capitol building, Don L. Love Memorial Library.  Excellent meals provided by home econmics department.

Date: Sunday afternoon, April 18, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Mr. [George] Herring
Place: Lincoln, NE
Lee tells a friend of his parents about life in the U.S. Army Air Corps.

Date: Monday noon, April 19, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Shirely Minker
Place: Lincoln, NE
A package arrives, asks if they are getting mother anything for Easter.  Food rations are cut.

Date: Tuesday night, April 20, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Lincoln, NE
Package of food arrives, payroll, measles, flowers for Mother’s Day, swimming requirements.

Date: Thursday afternoon, April 22, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Lincoln, NE
Disappointment there will be no furlough for a year, arrangements for pre-flight training. Report of 13 cases of scarlet fever. Questions about home, asks for Sunday Times and Saturday (Wilmington) Journal.

Date: Sunday evening, April 25, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Lincoln, NE
Visit to Chancellor (Union College ) Schwartz’s house.  Schwartz was a friend of Rev. Minker referred to in a letter. GI haircut, Bob Hope movie.

Date: Tuesday noon, April 27, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Shirely Minker
Place: Lincoln, NE
Questions about home, new schedule for classes, their Miami Glee Club is singing and marching.

Date: Thursday noon, April 29, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Lincoln, NE
List of needed items, plans to leave Lincoln for San Antonio on June 20 [later changed to Santa Ana, CA], their dorm “saturated” with Easter packages, general army life news.

Date: Friday night, April 30, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Lincoln, NE
Pay day of $71.71, sending $50 home, “gig” system of demerits, Military Ball on May 15.

Date: Monday evening, May 3, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Lincoln, NE
Boredom of guard duty, package from grandmother and letters from friends.

Date: Wednesday night, May 5, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Shirley Minker
Place: Lincoln, NE
Responds to her news of Senior Ball, questions about Blue Rocks [baseball team], new class schedule. Identifies boys in the pictures he sent home [see scrapbook].

Date: Saturday noon, May 8, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Lincoln, NE
Volunteered to set up at the Big Six Conference track meet, news of the fall of Africa.  Believes there will be at least two more years of years. Japan number one danger now.

Date: Wednesday night, May 12, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Lincoln, NE
Received many letters from home, report of the Dickinson [College]Enlisted Reserve Corps.  News of activities on the base, a dance, PT tests.

Date: Saturday afternoon, May 15, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Shirley Minker
Place: Lincoln, NE
Reading the Echo [A.I du Pont school paper] which lists those in the service. Asks that they invite his favorite teacher, Mr. Yingst, to dinner.

Date: Monday night, May 17, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Lincoln, NE
Upcoming tests, recommends  the book He’s in the Air Corps Now by Graham and Kulack.

Date: Wednesday night, May 19, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Lincoln, NE
Minker & Stillwell, the two top ranked men, are transferred to Section D-1, training is advanced by a month. Cramming for finals.

Date: Saturday noon, May 22, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Lincoln, NE
I start flying Monday, report on next phases of training.  Report of “night I shall never forget” as E section marched off to the station singing.

Date: Monday night, May 24, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Shirley Minker
Place: Lincoln, NE
The excitement of the first flight, in a Piper Cub, comes across in Lee’s poetic description of flight.  He also provides technical details of what he is learning and the second flight.
Names: Jorgenson [Minnesotan, flight instructor]

Date: Saturday noon, May 29, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Lincoln, NE
Four hours in the air, the most advanced student.  Report of everything he had learned – stalls, glides, climbs, etc. Comment about the mail, pictures enclosed.

Date: Wednesday night, June 2, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Lincoln, NE
No flying- hot wind. California-Pennsylvania mining dispute, reports from boys at Santa Ana.  Will not be able to write as often when he leaves Lincoln.

Date: Friday night, June 4, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Lincoln, NE
Was not able to get through by phone. Details of check flight with Jorgensen and doing spins. Plans for shipping out soon. Report of flying pay.
Names: Jorgensen [flight instructor]

Date: Wednesday, night June 9, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Shirely Minker
Place: Lincoln, NE
Congratulations on her high school graduation (A. I. du Pont HS), corsage for girlfriend Julia [Taylor], no flying due to rain, shipping as much home as he can, including their letters.
Names: Wendell Wilkie

Date: Saturday morning, June 12, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Lincoln, NE
Check flight, high washout rate in pre-flight, on alert for shipment, will try to call Monday night.

Date: Wednesday evening, June 16, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Lincoln, NE
The young soldier is lonely, away from home on his 19th birthday. Worried that problems with his eyes will wash him out of pilot training. Writes regularly to 25 people. Assesses various professors at Dickinson [College].

Minker finishes University of Nebraska classes, turns 19 on June 16, leaves Lincoln on June 19 for train trip to Santa Ana Army Air Force Base for classification.

Date: Thursday night, June 24, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Santa Ana AAB, CA
Details of schedule and training at the base.  Three days of tests and interviews to measure aptitude. Notes class prejudice of California boys against Japanese and Mexicans. Won’t be able to write very often.
Names: Joe DiMaggio, Merle Hapes, [sports stars], Larry Adler

Date: Monday evening, June 27, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Santa Ana AAB, CA
Finished tests, “feeling rather cocky.” Concerned about night vision and depth perception. Terrific tension, 9 of 84 washed out. Sunday review with 15,000 men. Questions about home.

Folder 3: Ralph L. “Lee” Minker,  Jr., July – September, 1943

Minker is stationed at one of the major classification centers, Santa Ana Army Air Forces Base, California, for classification and pre-flight training.  

Abstract

Date: Thursday night, July 1, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Shirely Minker
Place: Santa Ana AAB, CA
Anxious about classification, lectures on disease and military intelligence. News of [General Douglas] MacArthur’s new offensive. Letters and packages received.
Names: Colonel Robertson (base commander)

Date: Sunday morning, July 4, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Santa Ana AAB, CA
Let-down in morale over classification and prospect of CT D [College Training Detachment]. Shirley singing in Brandywiners. Makes suggestions for dad to supplement his staff at Ferris Industrial School for Boys.

Date: Tuesday noon, July 6, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Santa Ana AAB, CA
Good news! Classified as PILOT. Comment on washouts, eager to get to pre-flight, training being speeded up. Loved PX specials for 20 cents. “Wings to Victory” is broadcast from Santa Ana. Picture taken in cadet uniform. Detail of daily schedule.

Date: Monday, July 12, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Santa Ana AAB, CA
Starting six week pre-flight course, will leave little time for letter writing.

Date: Thursday afternoon, July 22, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Shirely Minker
Place: Santa Ana AAB, CA
Struggles with classes in aircraft identification, gunnery practice and PT Over 500,000 servicemen in a 100 mile radius of LA.

Date: Friday afternoon, July 30, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Santa Ana AAB, CA
Expecting more intensified training, anxiety about washing out. Received 87 on test, Paramount Studios and Douglas Aircraft providing dates for their graduation party.

Date: Sunday afternoon, August 1, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Santa Ana AAB, CA
Not much news, questions about home.
Names:  Saw a boy from Dickinson, Rae deMatis [MIA March 22, 1945 – Dickinson College Archives]

Date: Tuesday afternoon, August 3, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Shirley Minker
Place: Santa Ana AAB, CA
Writing from altitude chamber to test eardrums, climbing fast to 38,000 feet. Lectures on high altitude flying. Rule to use oxygen masks above 10,000 feet.  Took five minutes to come down, feeling fine, eager to take a B-25 up.

Several boys went on pass to Los Angeles and the Hollywood Canteen.  Lee sent a package home with autographs and other memorabilia.

Date: Sunday evening, August 8, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Santa Ana AAB, CA
The trip to LA on first weekend pass – 3 pages of detail. Heard Jimmy Dorsey at the Palladium, saw Gene Tierney and George Raft at the Brown Derby.  Went on to the floor show at Hollywood Canteen. Kay Kaiser and his band, danced with Hedy Lamarr. Mailed insurance policy. [Autographs are in the scrapbook.]
Names: Jimmy Dorsey, Gene Tierney, George Raft, Kay Kaiser, Patricia Morrison, Hedy Lamarr, Ish Kabibble, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

Date: Wednesday morning, August 11, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Shirley Minker
Place: Santa Ana AAB, CA
Pistol, rifle, machine gun practice at the beach.  Received dog tags. Bearing down on discipline.  Asks for wallet and about the Blue Rocks.

Date: Sunday evening, August 15, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Santa Ana AAB, CA
Pre-flight exams to start, worried about code, physics, and aircraft identification.  Cadet discipline, pilot glamour, comment on growth of major cities.
Names: Frank Sinatra at the Hollywood Bowl

Date: Saturday afternoon, August 21, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Santa Ana AAB, CA
Final exams, anxiety about passing aircraft identification.  Speculation about future assignments, will be sending pictures and old letters home. Report of basketball championship game that included All Americans and Big Ten stars.

Date: Wednesday evening, August 25, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Santa Ana AAB, CA
Complaints that after 6 months they have had no furlough and are just beginning actual training with 50% washout rate. Asks for package from home.
Names: Governor Warren, Major General Yost, Major General Cousins.

Date: Friday afternoon, August 27, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Santa Ana AAB, CA
Shipping orders to Thunderbird Field II, best primary training in the country.  Will fly Stearmans, graduation ceremonies for class 64 today.
Names: Colonel Hans Adamsun, [Eddie] Rickenbacker

Date: Sunday evening, August 29, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Santa Ana AAB, CA
Preparations for leaving for Thunderbird, saw movie of the same name.

Date: Tuesday evening, August 31, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Santa Ana AAB, CA
New address, food and accommodations improved, impressions of Phoenix, AZ and the desert. Acclimating to new base, Monday we fly.

Promoted to the rank of Army Air Cadet, Lee Minker is stationed at Thunderbird Field II,   Scottsdale, Arizona.

Date: Thursday noon, September 2, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Thunderbird Field II, AZ
Class 44-C settling in to the heat and dust. Detailed schedule, lecture topics.  Must have 65 hours in the air and make 103 landings in two months. Details of physical training. Report on pay, not able to write to everyone. Questions about home.

Date: Monday evening, September 6, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Thunderbird Field II, AZ
Details of first flight in the Stearman, compares to training in the Ryan. Reasons why 40% of class will washout. Tried to call home. Ground school topics, attended Protestant service.
Names: Ray Newton – flight instructor, Jim Gist – roommate

Date: Wednesday evening, September 8, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Shirley Minker
Place: Thunderbird Field II, AZ
Shirley’s college choice, answers questions from her letters.

Date: Thursday afternoon, September 9, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Thunderbird Field II, AZ
Received snapshot of his sisters, Bernice is in the AWVS [American Women’s Volunteer Services]. Having problems with take offs and landings.

Date: Sunday evening, September 12, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Thunderbird Field II, AZ
Tried to call home, package arrived, four hours of flying, nervous about precision and take offs. Studies pointing them to Asia Theatre.

Date: Tuesday evening, September 14, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Thunderbird Field II, AZ
Sent $50 home.  Trolley strike in Wilmington. Answers her questions. Phoenix is overcrowded-only 50% can go in on weekends.

Date: Thursday evening, September 16, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Thunderbird Field II, AZ
Analysis of impact of air development on the future. Questions about the future of airlines and air sovereignty.  Has seven hours of flying, worried that he does not get the feel of it.

Date: Sunday evening, September 19, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Thunderbird Field II, AZ
Trouble getting a phone call through to Wilmington, family saw the movie Thunderbird.  Wedding announcements of friends. List of people he is writing to. Questions about Wilmington sport teams.
Names: Mr. Yingst [high school football coach], Bill Virgin [Dickinson], Howell Finn [Dickinson], Ralph Lower [Dickinson], Leland Inscho, Mike Zographone, Mr. Boykins, Julia [Taylor], Henry Good and Billy Jim Tawes.

Date: Thursday morning, September 23, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Thunderbird Field II, AZ
Got a call through on Monday night. Hoping to solo, schedule of flying time between solo and dual controls.
Names: Howell Wilkins [Dickinson]

Date: Wednesday evening, September 29, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Thunderbird Field II, AZ
Concern about being washed out of flight training. Passed solo checks, has fourteen hours flying time, sixty five regular landings. Sent package of cactus to mother. Discusses various sports.
Names: Bill Hyde [Dickinson], Howell FInn [Dickinson]

Folder 4: Ralph L. “Lee” Minker, Jr., October – December, 1943

Thunderbird Field II and Pecos Army Air Base.

Abstract

Date: Sunday evening, October 3, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Thunderbird Field II, AZ
Passed twenty hour check, working hard, pay of cadet, anxious during surprise check ride, received five packages, report of hours in the air. Spent time in Link trainer.  Includes detailed drawing of basic maneuvers he is learning for the check ride.
Names: LeFriece [instructor]

Date: Sunday afternoon, October 10, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Shirley Minker
Place: Thunderbird Field II, AZ
Concern about forty hour progress check ride, drawings of solo landings.

Date: Wednesday evening, October 13, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Thunderbird Field II, AZ
Reasons why maneuvers are getting worse, homesick after eight months, explanation of finances, purchased war bonds, questions about events at home.
Names: Mike Zographone

Date: Sunday afternoon, October 17, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Thunderbird Field II, AZ
Report of flying time, civilian progress check, learning to fly cross country, description of Scottsdale, Japanese relocation camps.  Enclosed picture of flying group [see scrapbook].

Date: Sunday evening, October 31, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Thunderbird Field II, AZ
Has completed another phase of training. Feels he is more mature, recognizes how training will help with the “job to do.” Rumors of future training; single and two engine fighters, list of choices of ship. Tries to ease parents’ concern, assures that flight training is safe. Compares flying the Stearman with the Ryan.
Names: Mr. Newton [ivilian flight instructor], Bill Virgin [Dickinson College]

Date: Monday morning, November 1, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Shirley Minker
Place: Pecos Field, Pecos TX
Summary of his 8 months of military training. Scheduled to move again on Wednesday.  Description of future training, and assignments. Has not heard from Julia
Names: Julia [Taylor]

Date: Sunday noon, November 7, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Pecos Field, Pecos TX
Arrived at Pecos, analysis of Air Force training, limitations of Pecos Field, flight line with BT-13 and AT-17 planes, cadet allowances have been cut, athletics are fine, disappointed in his flying, transferred to single engine.
Note: comments written on letter were made in 1990s by Minker, may not be accurate.
Names: Lieutenant Nolan

Date: Thursday evening, November 11, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Pecos Field, Pecos TX
Detailed schedule, took parachute jump, flying the BT-13, asks for cookies, lonely for home at Thanksgiving, needs a flying wrist watch.

Date: Thursday noon, November 18, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Pecos Field, Pecos TX
Happy birthday to dad, progress on flying hours, classes in instrument, communications, radio code, aircraft identification. Dentist removing wisdom teeth. Developments in army aviation, growth in power of Air Corps. Questions about the Ferris School.

Date: Friday evening, November 26, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Pecos Field, Pecos TX
Instrument flying practice with instructor, possible future assignments and furlough by March 15, 1944.
Names: Lt. Nolan

Date: Sunday morning, November 28, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Pecos Field, Pecos TX
Pecos to become advanced flying school for twin engine training, expects to have wings by March. News of Blue Rocks and Blue Bombers.
Names: Professor [Russell]Thompson, [Dickinson College]

Date: Sunday afternoon, December 5, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Pecos Field, Pecos TX
Pearl Harbor day at Dickinson in 1941, how his life has changed.  Advanced training in BT-13, rumor is for instructor or air transport.  Directions to get gifts for Shirley, Julia, Grandmother Minker. Letters received from friends.

Date: Thursday evening, December 9, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Pecos Field, Pecos TX
Thirty-two hours of flying, six hours of Link trainer, first cross country on Saturday, night flying to begin. Lonely for the family at the holiday, Will try to get phone call through Christmas week.

Date: Wednesday evening, December 15, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Pecos Field, Pecos TX
Class 44-C at Pecos, three hour cross country, trip marked out in navigation class, passed Hellcats and a C-46. Requirements for night flying, passed basic instrument check, will soon enter advanced flight training.  Enjoys night flying. Took Diazine pills to ward off flu.
Names: Leland Inscho, Howell Finn [Dickinson College]

Date: Monday evening, December 20, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Pecos Field, Pecos TX
Basis of assignment choices, asked for B-26, B-25, Air Transport. Has fifty-four hours in Basic. Formation flying is exacting. Book he is reading, hoping to get to El Paso on pass, List of Christmas cards received. Will try to call on Sunday.

Date: December 23, 1943
Western Union telegram from Ralph L. Minker, Sr., with times for him to call hom
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Pecos Field, Pecos TX
Christmas greetings to family.  Notes on the back reminding him of what he wanted to say.

Date: Christmas Day, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Pecos Field, Pecos TX
Heartfelt expression of loneliness and the importance of the job at hand. Opened his gifts from various friends, their gifts had not arrived. Sending photographs as gifts.
Names: Howell Finn [Dickinson College]

Date: Tuesday evening,  December 28, 1943
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Pecos Field, Pecos TX
Yearning for Christmas at home, difficulty in placing phone calls [got through on Dec. 27]. Welcome package of cookies arrived, the watch from mom and dad is favorite gift. Wishes he could personally thank everyone. Finished formation flying, firing range for Colt 45 and sub-machine gun.

Folder 5: Ralph L. “Lee” Minker, Jr., January – March, 1944

Pecos Army Air Base [AAFB], New Mexico, Class 44-C .

Abstract

Date: Sunday noon, January 2, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Pecos AAFB
Graduation festivities for Basic Training. Concerns over skill mastery required for Advanced training in the AT-17. Flight Office Act of 1942. Advance purchase of officer uniform for $350.

Date: Sunday evening, January 9, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Pecos AAFB
Advanced Flying Training to begin.  Plans for March 12, 1944, graduation and assignment to transitional training.
Note: Handwritten comment at the top of the page was made by the author in the 1990s.

Date: Monday evening, January 10, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Pecos AAFB
Description of town of Pecos. Advice about selecting a college. Thanks for Christmas gifts. Explains meaning of army rank.
Note: Handwritten comment at the top of the page was made by the author in the 1990s.

Date: Sunday noon, January 16, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Pecos AAFB
Flying progress in AT-17, concern about work to master the plane. Description of the AT-17. No news about graduation and how to get home for furlough. Asks dad to purchase top-coat.

Date: Thursday evening, January 20, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Pecos AAFB
Counting the days until graduation. Details from lecture on future of the Air Corps and equipment.  Planning for furlough.

Date: Sunday evening, January 23, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Pecos AAFB
Frustrated with travel plans to get home. Required purchase of uniforms. Will begin night flying next week.

Date: Sunday evening, January 30, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Pecos AAFB
Waiting to get a call through. Best man at wedding of Harold Sites. Wallets stolen in cadet area, lost his address book and pictures as well. Wants dad to help with purchase of required uniforms. Started formation and instrument flying.
Names: Harold Sites and Wilma Wittenberg – wedding

Date: Tuesday evening, February 1, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Pecos AAFB
Arrangements for officer’s uniform with prices. Details of pay and expenditures.

Date: Sunday noon, February 6, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Pecos AAFB
Full schedule for Sunday, amount of work explains lack of letter writing. Plans for graduation, Army’s future plans for students. Record of hours as pilot and co-pilot, flew a low-level cross- country flight.

Date: Tuesday noon, February 8, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Pecos AAFB
Schedule does not permit time for a long distance call, please send roses to Julia [Taylor] for Valentine’s Day.

Date: Monday noon, February 14, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Pecos AAFB
Little time to write, travel arrangements and plans at home for furlough, desire to rest at home.  Cross country night flying Pecos to Midland to Salt Flat.

Date: Saturday afternoon, February 19, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Pecos AAFB
Grounded due to bad weather, has 47 hours of Advanced Training, total of 195 pilot hours. Looks forward to hearing her sing.

Date: Sunday morning, February 27, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Pecos AAFB
Plans for getting home.

Date: Tuesday noon, February 29, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Pecos AAFB
Weather preventing needed flying time, list of remaining flying requirements.  Details of pay, cost of uniforms

Date: Sunday evening, March 5, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Pecos AAFB
Worried he will not pass instrument check. List of causes of anxiety throughout flight training. Details of March 12 graduation as a Second Lieutenant. Expects to be in Wilmington March 15, how he wants to spend his time. Has to leave by Monday for operational training.  Eager to be at home.

Note: Ralph “Lee’ Minker was on furlough in Wilmington Delaware March 13-21, 1944

Date: Wednesday evening, March 22, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Dearborn RR Station, Chicago, IL
Worried he will not pass instrument check. List of causes of anxiety throughout flight training. Details of March 12 graduation as a Second Lieutenant. Expects to be in Wilmington March 15, how he wants to spend his time. Has to leave by Monday for operational training.  Eager to be at home.
Note: Handwritten notation added by author in the 1990s.

Folder 6: Ralph L.”Lee” Minker, Jr., April – June, 1944

Roswell Army Air Field, New Mexico.

Abstract

Date: Monday evening, April 3, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Roswell AAF, NM
Excited to have his first flight in a Flying Fortress. Worn out from the work of maneuvering the big plane.  Technical description of the B-17, hopeful in will be able to make it through the demands of transition flight training. Instructions about uniforms being bought in Wilmington.  Trip to Carlsbad, NM.  Food has greatly improved.

Date: Wednesday evening, April 5, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Roswell AAF, NM
First pay as an officer, buying war bonds, details of budget and savings account. Scheduled to start instrument flying. Regrets that training has kept him from church services.
Names: Bob Davis and Ted Strous [Dickinson College]

Date: Thursday evening, April 6, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Roswell AAF, NM
Reflective about past Easter services with the family. Wants to keep in touch with events from home.

Date: Monday evening, April 10, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna MInker
Place: Roswell AAF, NM
Transition training behind schedule. Pictures and packages arrived, questions about activities at home and Ginger [German Shepherd dog], has not received any clippings from home.

Date: Monday evening, April 17, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Roswell AAF, NM
Tired and lonely after accelerated B-17 training and ground school.  Feelings about the B-17 have changed from “sweet ship” to “damn truck.” Political view of the Roosevelt/Wilkie ticket in the election.
Names: Hal Sites, Mike Zographone

Date: Tuesday afternoon, April 25, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Roswell AAF, NM
Passed B-17 instrument check, 50 hours flight time, has passed chief requirements.  Wishes he could fly to Wilmington on a cross country. Enjoys reading newspaper from home.  List of boys they know in the service.

Date: Sunday evening, April 30, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Roswell AAF, NM
Has 60 hours flying B-17, list of further requirements.  One-third of class wash out, rumors about orders and which plane he will fly. Frustrated that he will not participate in European invasion. Asks them to see the documentary Memphis Belle to understand the Fort [Flying Fortress]. Technical description of B-17. Report of pay.

Date: Wednesday evening, May 3, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Roswell AAF, NM
Too busy to write, brief note with $100.

Date: Sunday noon, May 7, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Roswell AAF, NM
Birthday letter to mother, longing for home, hope for a world of “peace and cooperation.” Tuned in to the Kentucky Derby while flying due to powerful receiver.  Amused by Tokyo Rose on the radio.

Date: Sunday noon, May 7, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Shirley Minker
Place: Roswell AAF, NM
Has completed B-17 transitional training, shipping orders uncertain.

Date: Thursday evening, May 11, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Roswell AAF, NM
Homesick, weather in the west is monotonous, misses the green and flowers.  Suggests investing in building and loan with his savings for after the war.
Names: Howell Finn, Bill Virgin, [Dickinson College], Mike Houlihan

Date: Thursday noon, May 18, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Roswell AAF, NM
Cheered by talking with the family on Monday evening, bored by military life. Frustrated at waste of time, dull lectures of filler training, not eligible to fly more hours.  Analysis of shift of production from the B-17 to B-29.  Irritated with worker strikes that cause loss of P-51s needed for bomber protection.  Blue Rocks, questions about events at home, directions for maintaining the garden.  News of friends in the service.
Names: Howell Finn {Dickinson College], Leland Inscho

Note:  There is a gap in correspondence from May 18, 1944 – June 29, 1944.  He had an unexpected visit home sometime during mid-June.  Letter from his mother indicates he was home on his birthday.

Date: Thursday evening, June 29, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Tampa, FL
Train trip down through North Carolina. Waiting for assignment to operational training. Bothered by the humid weather.  Listened to Thomas E. Dewey accept Republican nomination, questions his experience as a wartime president.  Give pilot wings to Julia [Taylor].  Asks they keep everything he sends home for a scrapbook.  Questions about Blue Rocks, encourages mom and dad to take a vacation.

Folder 7: Ralph L. “Lee” Minker, Jr., July – September, 1944

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

Abstract

Date: Monday evening, July 3, 1944
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.

Folder 8: Ralph L. “Lee” Minker, Jr., October – December, 1944

Rattlesden Army Air Force Base, England

2nd Lt. Ralph Lee Minker and his crew arrived at Rattlesden AAFB on October 16, 1944, as a replacement crew in the Eighth Air Force, 447th Bomb Group 709th Air Squadron stationed at Rattlesden Army Air Forces Base.

Abstract

Date: Wednesday evening, October 18, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, Engand
Excited to convey first impressions of England, the countryside and the air field.  Assessment of the impact of air travel in the future.  Asks the family not to worry, recognizes the job he has to do.

Date: Saturday evening, October 21, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Details of ground school classes.  Eager to start flying again, phases in being checked out and becoming a combat crew. Look forward to their letters.

Note: On October 26, 1944 Lt. Minker, had his first break-in mission flying co-pilot on Big Ass Bird to the oil plant at Hannover, Germany.  Click here to see full mission list.

Date: Sunday evening, October 29, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Contrasts the air field in England with air fields at home. Housing is adequate. Plans for visiting in England.

Date: Monday evening, October 30, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Spent a wonderful two hours reading the mail from the States which finally caught up with him. Recommends V-mail or airmail, asks for clipping and news to stay connected with home.

Date: Friday evening, November 3, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Unsure if they have received his letters.  Questions about the homefront: United War Fund, dad’s role in war bond drive, the Ferris School for Boys and his sisters.  Attempts to reconcile the work of combat with the need for world peace.
Note: On Thursday, November 2, Lt. Minker flew his second mission as co-pilot in Dixie Marie, bombing the synthetic oil plant at Merceburg, one of the most dangerous targets in Germany.

Date: Sunday evening, November 5, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Has been assigned a B-17 and named it Blue Hen Chick. Nostalgic description of football, importance of sports to the army. Limits of the available newspapers.

Date: Wednesday evening, November 8, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Political assessment of the 1944 presidential election which is distant from the life he is now living.  Details of the English monetary system which he finds complicated.

Date: Wednesday evening, November 8, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Shirely Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Recognizes they are fighting to preserve free elections. He is paid in English currency, repeat of description he sent his mother. Report of letters he has received.

Date: Tuesday evening, November 14, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Shirely Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Details of travel and the sites of war-torn London, Officers’ Mess at Grovesnor House.  Reflective about ravages of five years of war on a great city.

Date: Wednesday evening, November 22, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Importance of letters from home.  Wishing dad happy birthday. Mourns the death in action of Wally Wroten.  Will fly practice missions, hit tactical targets to support ground troops.  Reassures that they are all fine.
Names: [Wallace S.] Wroten [KIA]

Date: Tuesday evening, November 28, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Happy birthday to his sister. Connecting to his younger sister’s life and activities with questions.  Answers to the questions she sent about food, living quarters, the crew and censoring the mail.

Date: November 28, 1944(V-Mail)
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Using V-mail to compare delivery of airmail letter to Bernice.  Asks her to purchase Christmas gifts for the family and girlfriend Julia [Taylor].  Received Christmas packages from Bernice and Grandmother Jones.

Date: Friday evening, December 8, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Frustrated with slow mail delivery, reassures her not to worry when she doesn’t get a letter and that he thinks of them continuously.  Describes how he spends his time.  Reports that he indicated an interest in an Air Force career on a recent survey.  Analyzes how the military air forces may be organized after the war, particularly the young Air Force.  Sending money home.

Date: Tuesday evening, December 19, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Hoping the fog does not keep them from supporting ground troops in German counter-offensive.  Visited London, report on food and restaurants including a Horn and Hardart.  New policy on passes.  Puzzled by themail which is slow, but has received Christmas packages.  Recognizes that Germany is continuing the fight, feels he should stay until they are defeated.

Date: Friday evening December 22, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Still grounded by weather when they are needed to help with the German attack.  Recognizes that the war is not yet won, anti-aircraft defenses and the weather making the air war rough.  News of Arthur Lovelace of New Castle.  Extensive comments on sports, esp. Wilmington teams.

Date: Western Union, December 23, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Family
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Sends telegram to let the family know that he is OK.  Christmas wishes.

Date: Sunday evening, December 31, 1944
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Neglecting letters due to missions, Blue Hen Chick out for repair.  Received 15 letters, decorated barracks Christmas tree.
Names: Johnny Curlett, Chuck Bossert, Howell Wilkins, Walt Biddle.

Folder 9: Ralph L. “Lee” Minker, Jr., January – May, 1945

Rattlesden Army Air Force Base, England

Note: Between December 24, 1944 and January 21, 1945 the Minker crew flew 15 missions to Germany in support of the Battle of the Bulge.  See the list of missions to understand the context of these letters.

Abstract

On January 1, 1945, Minker was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant.

Date: Thursday evening, January 4, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
List of names and addresses of family of the crew, asks mother to contact them.
Names: Mrs. Gordon B. Dodge, Mr & Mrs Wesley C. Pitts, Mr and Mrs. John Rosiala, Mrs. Elizabeth Shannon, Mrs. Olaf Larsen, Mrs. Zehora Shepherd, Mrs. Paul Trambley, Mr & Mrs. J. McKay.

Date: Western Union, January 20, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Due to number of missions during Battle of the Bulge, he has not written.  Showing concern for their anxiety, Lee assures his parents that he is fine.

Date: Sunday evening, January 21, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Shirley Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Shares information about the German counteroffensive and how pathfinder equipment assists in bombing through the clouds.  Connects with his sister and home by asking lots of questions.

Date: Wednesday evening, January 24, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Describes bombing targets, role of pathfinder equipment.  Comments on the progress of the war. Extensive political analysis of the future: unemployment, regulation of business, assimilation of servicemen after the war, future of the military, post-war problems and foreign policy.  Sharing sports with his dad, comments on Blue Bombers and Blue Rocks. Frustrated with Army waste when 447th “stood down” for inspection by a major general.

Date: Tuesday evening, January 30, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Expresses feelings about the war; not eager to face the enemy yet accepts the need to continue bombing to support troops on the western and eastern fronts. Went to London, saw several plays. Still trying to get 620 film, wants reprints of pictures he has sent home. Going to arrange a photo of the Blue Hen Chick [see scrapbook].  Letters received from home.
Names: Mike Zagraphone, Bob Cassel

Date: Saturday evening, February 3, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Advice on the garden, welcomes the early spring weather at the base. Including news clippings of bombing, General [James] Doolittle visited the base.  Officers of two new crews moved into the barracks. [Two crews had been shot down.]

Date: Monday evening, February 12, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Went to see Cambridge on his last pass.  Lists all the letters he has received and how important they are to him. Figures for 1944 income taxes, received a $16 raise as a 1st lieutenant, crew mentioned letters from Edna to their families.
Names: Ed Lake, Howell Finn [Wilmington], & Ralph Lower [Dickinson College]

On February 27, 1945 Minker completed his tour of 35 missions and was awarded membership in The Lucky Bastards Club, (p. 57 of scrapbook).  While his crew came home, Minker signed on for a second tour to finish up the war in Europe.

Date: Sunday evening, March 5, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Spent the day writing letters. The crew has completed combat duty of 35 missions, has decided to stay, plan to be home for July 4.  Will be working in group operations.  Finds it hard write and to concentrate. Bombardier John Rosiala was wounded. Visited friend from Dickinson College who is recovering from a wound.
Names: Bob Cassel [Dickinson College, Theta Chi fraternity brother], Dick Brown [Dickinson College]

Date: Sunday evening, March 11, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Good news about the war, recognizes effort needed to overcome the Axis.  Plans being made for Air Forces to participate in attack on Japan. Needs 620 film to take pictures of England in the spring. Movies he has seen. Pleased she has corresponded with family of his crew, hopes their friendship will continue after the war.
Names: Howell Finn [Wilmington], Ken Mayo [Dickinson College]

Date: Monday evening, March 19, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
This description of a “typical” mission opens with supper the evening before and goes on to detail what he does throughout the next 24 hours.  Full of detail but not technical, the tone and poetic nature of the description progresses hour by hour to the skies over Germany and the grateful return home.
Note: This is the longest letter from Lee in the collection.

First Lieutenant Ralph L. Minker was on leave for 30 days after completing his first tour of 35 missions on February 26, 1945. He signed on for a second tour, then spent time touring the English countryside before returning to base. The crew of the Blue Hen Chick all returned to the U.S.  The exact dates of the leave are not known; there are no letters between March 19 and April 25, 1945.

Date: Wednesday evening, April 25, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Flying fatigue and spring fever kept him from writing. Feeling the excitement from all the recent change: death of the president, end of the war in Europe is near, the fury of war in the Far East.  The base is now a training center. Refers to transition flying techniques which possibly were to prepare for the planned invasion of Japan.  His return date of July 4 will probably be postponed.

Date: Cablegram, April 27, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Letting the family know he is fine after not writing for a month.

Date: Saturday evening, April 28, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Asks about Blue Rocks and Philly Blue Jays. [Lee and his dad shared a love of sports throughout their letters.] Problems of leadership at Dickinson College. Definitely wants to return to Dickinson College. Reflective about the start of the United Nations.  Met a Wilmington boy in London.
Names: Bill Ulrich of Wilmington and Grace Church.

Date: Tuesday evening, May 8, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
The unmitigated joy of VE Day, “At Last!.” Recognizes how much he has missed as Bernice is now in the final days of her senior year of high school at Tower Hill. Training continues, critique of motion pictures he has seen and books read.

Ralph Lee Minker was promoted to Captain on May 16, 1945

Date: Wednesday evening, May 16, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Wistful about spring at home as he discusses their garden. No news about redeployment, refresher training continues. Censorship is now lifted so he reports on his exact location.  Pleased she talked with Bob Cassel and Olaf Larsen.
Names: Olaf Larsen – radioman on the Blue Hen Chick. 

Date: Thursday evening, May 24, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
Reports rather casually that he has been promoted to captain, lists the battles of Rhineland, Ardennes and Central Germany. The “special mission” he mentions is probably Operation Chowhound which dropped food over Holland in early May.  Awarded Air medal and five oak leaf clusters.  Lee tells his dad what he wants to do upon returning, which reflects simple aspects of civilian life and he wants to see his girl. Talks about reassignment as the war is not over yet.
Names: Julia B. Taylor [girlfriend]

Date: Sunday evening, May 27, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB, England
The spring in England reminds Lee of Wilmington as he focuses on plans to come home, but there are only rumors. He is sending home negatives of photos of London, crew, buddies. Report of a “Victory Tour” for ground personnel, low altitude view of bombing results. Lee’s growing sensibilities about war are seen in his poetic description of how the war has ravaged Germany.

Folder 10:  Ralph L. “Lee” Minker, Jr., June – August, 1945

Rattlesden Army Air Forces Airbase and Lancashire Reception Center, England

Abstract

Date:  Cablegram, June 11, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Parents (Edna and Ralph L. Minker, Sr.)
Place: Rattlesden AAFB Eng.
Excited to tell them he will be home by July 4th.

Date:  Saturday evening, June 16, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB Eng.
Hopes his parents will be proud of him as he celebrates 21st birthday. Plans for coming home have
changed.

Date:  Sunday evening, June 24, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Bernice Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB Eng.
Congratulations on Bernice’s high school graduation and acceptance to college. Still waiting on
news of shipping home, reports on movies, Julia’s [Taylor] birthday.

Date:  Tuesday evening, June 26, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB Eng.
Lee is clearly bored and frustrated with waiting for orders to return home. Discusses the English
general election and voting requirements in detail. Enjoying their birthday package.

Date:  Tuesday evening, July 3, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB Eng.
Still waiting for orders, flying echelon of 447th Bomb Group left. Receipt for $230. Asks how
money is invested, fellow from DE arrived, leaving for a pass to London.
Names: Sergeant Clyde Wolfe Jr from Richardson Park DE.

Date:  Friday evening, July 6, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Shirley Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB Eng.
No news on shipping home. Reports on his trip to London: saw Churchill booed, British movie The
Way to the Stars
, a play, Rigoletto and Yeomen of the Guard. Hard to keep busy, reading Plato.
Queries his sister about her summer activities.

Date:  Monday evening, July 16, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB Eng.
Still no word on shipping home. Will ship some stuff home. Visited the 94th Bomb Group [Bury St.
Edmonds], got in some flying time. Report on books he is reading.

Date:  Friday evening, July 20, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Rattlesden AAFB Eng.
Last letter from Rattlesden, going to Redeployment Center at Chorley. Would like the rest of the
family to see England. Critique of plays and movies he saw while on pass. Wistful …home before
too long.

Shipped to redeployment center in Lancashire on July 22, 1945.

Date:  V-mail, July 28, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Lancashire Reception Center England
Arrived Monday for processing, nothing to do but play ball and go to the movies. Belongings are
packed.

Date:  V-mail, August 7, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Lancashire Reception Center England
Still waiting. Sends temporary address. Saw Winged Victory, accurate but too melodramatic.

Date:  V-mail, August 17, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna Minker
Place: Lancashire Reception Center England
Celebrating news of peace at war’s end! Excited tone about “probable” dates for shipment home.
Looking toward the future. Tells family not to write anymore.

Date:  V-mail, August 25, 1945
Writer: Lee Minker
Recipient: Edna and Ralph L. Minker, Sr.
Place: Lancashire Reception Center England
Pure excitement at the news: “I am coming home!!!” Will arrive on the Queen Elizabeth, will take
a few days to get to Wilmington via Camp Dix [New Jersey].