20th Century, History, Men, Minnesota, Uncategorized, World War II

Minnesota Enters World War II

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December 7, 1941
On the morning of December 7, 1941, members of a Minnesota Naval Reserve Division on the U.S.S. Ward are patrolling the entrance to Pearl Harbor. The crew spots and sinks a midget submarine—the first shots fired by the United States in World War II. An hour later the air attack begins that will draw the U.S. into the war. Private Milburn Henke of Hutchinson, serving with the American Expeditionary Force, will become the first enlisted man deployed to the European theater. *

Carl and Louise Henke had a son August 24, 1918, and they named him Milburn. He grew up in Hutchinson, Minnesota, and partook of the pastimes of boys then: hunting, fishing, working for his father, and playing baseball. Soon, he enlisted voluntarily, and was assigned to “B” Company, 135th Infantry Regiment of the 34th “Red Bull” Division which was merged with Iowa National Guard’s “B” Company, 133rd Regiment during training. **

The Red Bulls landed in Belfast on January 26, 1942, approximately one month after Pearl Harbor. Henke was promptly asked to meet with General Russell Hartle. The General inquired if he was willing to speak with reporters. “Well, if I have to, I think I can,” Henke replied. **

A publicity event welcomed him: a cheering crowd, photographers, and reporters. He had to walk down the gangplank six times so that the press could get a perfect shot of the first American soldier to set foot in Europe?! The newspapers and magazines had a feeding frenzy with Henke, but the climax was meeting the Queen and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Though highly publicized, Private Henke served like any G.I. and did his duty. In North Africa, he earned a Silver Star by saving his wounded Lieutenant by dragging him to safety under heavy fire. After liberating Tunisia, Milburn was wounded during preparations for the invasion of Italy. His back was broken when his weapons carrier rolled over onto him. **,***

Such were the sacrifices of these brave Minnesotans and Iowans! Please read this well-researched excerpt from the article “Private First Class Milburn Henke Lands In Belfast, Ireland” by Jason McDonald.
“The 34th Division fought in North Africa and Italy for the entire war, the longest serving unit in the United States Army. Very few of the 4,058 men who landed with Henke were left in the unit in 1945; only seven men who landed in Northern Ireland remained in 1st battalion in 1945.” ***

Lord, I’m so humbled and honored by this recollection of Milburn Henke and his 4,000 brothers that I can barely write. I thank You for the character given to these young men by their upbringing. I thank You for their obedience to do their duty in the face of suffering and death.

It reminds me of Your sacrifice, Father. You let Your son be torn in two by the Roman Empire, the accusations of the Sanhedrin, and the collective blindness of humanity?! Too few can recount the parental sacrifice of Your only Son, and too many are indifferent to Your pain. I include myself, shamefully, to the list.

I do not know if I possess the character to let my children die so the children of strangers can live. If I did, I would want to force my neighbor to remember this sacrifice. Likely, I would driven to rage by irreverence or indifference of the community to my pain.

Will You forgive my irreverence and indifference to the humiliation and public execution of Christ? Will You forgive Minnesota the irreverence and indifference to the humiliations and deaths of these elders from the 34th? Will You give us their strong portion of vigilance so that future generations will have the privilege to experience liberty?

Give us a heart like Henke. When and where conflict arises, let us volunteer to oppose it. Will You bless us to humbly do our duty today? We remember the existential threat World War II presented our State and Nation. We ask that You enable present and future generations to have the same resolve whether given heroic praise or no recognition for their efforts; “Well, if have to, I think I can.”

In parting, we are grateful that You acknowledge our efforts to serve. Like Henke’s story, we give You honor that You can do so much with a single choice! May we choose Your way; grace and truth, resolve and mettle.

“Little Is Much When God Is in It”

Little is much when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame;
There’s a crown, and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus’ name.
Kittie L. Suffield, 1924 ****
* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** https://www.mnmilitarymuseum.org/exhibits/veterans-page/sgt-milburn-h-henke/?ccm_paging_p_b3480=2
*** http://worldwar2database.com/gallery/wwii0193
**** https://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Little_Is_Much_When_God_Is_in_It/

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20th Century, History, Minnesota, Uncategorized, World War II

Off to War

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December 1941 to September 1945
Fort Snelling once again becomes an induction and training center during World War II. Over 300,000 recruits pass through the 120-year-old fortress on their way to battlefields in Europe and Asia.*

Below is a fantastic, authoritatively researched summary of the uses of Fort Snelling during World War II from the Minnesota Historical Society.

“When the United States entered World War II in December 1941, Fort Snelling became the induction point for more than 300,000 men and women who joined the armed forces. At its height in 1942, the Reception Center was capable of processing approximately 800 recruits each day. Recruits were sworn into the US military, received medical examinations and vaccinations, were classified and assigned to a unit, and were issued basic equipment. Most recruits stayed at Fort Snelling for only a short time before they were transferred to other military posts to begin their basic training.
Linking the lower and upper posts with the Reception Center was an electric streetcar called the “Fort Snelling Dummy.” In their off time soldiers at the fort enjoyed dances and socials, swimming pools and golfing, as well as a movie theater and post libraries run by the Red Cross.
In addition to inducting recruits, specialized units were organized and trained at the fort. Military Police were trained at the fort as well as the 99th Infantry Battalion, (eventually part of the 474th Infantry Regiment), made up of Norwegian-speaking soldiers who trained to fight on skis and snowshoes. Military Railway Service soldiers trained with local civilian railroad companies in the operation of the military’s railroads, going on to provide valuable logistics service in North Africa and Europe.” **

Let us reflect on the inductions and uses of Fort Snelling with You, Our Defender. We applaud Your consistent character and commitment to justice towards all! We commend You, Christ, as our advocate and defender, as our Kings of Kings and Lord of Lords, and as both the Lamb and the Lion.

We remember the faithfulness of these 300,000 Americans to defend this land, its flag, and its Constitution of unalienable rights granted to all by Your authority. We reflect on their commitment that went far beyond words; they demonstrated their love for this place by offering their minds, soul, body, and strength! We ask that You honor their commitment to fulfill their duty regardless of the price. Will You bless current and future generations of Minnesotans with their kind of durable love; a love not based on emotion, but choosing to be committed no matter the cost?

We know that our society was deeply split about involving ourselves in foreign wars that did not directly affect North America after the upheaval of the Great War (W.W.I). Please read the quote from Charles Lindbergh Sr., who at the time was a retired U.S. House of Representatives member from Minnesota’s 6th District. In his (in)famous Des Moines, Iowa speech of September 11,1941 Lindbergh posits, “As I have said, these war agitators comprise only a small minority of our people; but they control a tremendous influence. Against the determination of the American people to stay out of war, they have marshaled the power of their propaganda, their money, their patronage.” *** Will You forgive the judgments of 1941, both those supporting the wars in Europe and Japan, and the counter-judgments of those in the anti-war movement? Will You help us to hear the wisdom in the voices of both groups, and to more wisely protect our lands, people, and Constitution in the future?

We thank You that You did not condemn our sense of nationalism in this era, or condemn our love for America and its ideals of life, liberty, and property. Your Word gives us two powerful examples that should restrain nationalism within the bounds of wisdom. On the one hand, we have Your example the Psalm 137:5-6 exhorting all Israel to loyalty.
“If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand cease to function. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem as my greatest joy!” ****
On the other hand, You condemn: the nationalistic pride of foolish and disobedient leaders and tribalism, (I Kings/II Kings), the call to wisdom over strength, (Ecclesiates 9:17-18), and to humbly remember Your authority over all the families of nations.
“Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.” Berean Study Bible Psalm 96:7

May we hear Your voice through history as Minnesotans, as Americans, and as members of Your family of nations! May we resist evil in our world without becoming evil. (In this, we thank You for the example of the American soldiers of this generation! They won the war without permanently hating the enemy!) May we ever remember Your might and embrace Your discipline as we resist those who oppose us! Amen!

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
**http://www.mnhs.org/fortsnelling/learn/military-history/world-war-ii
*** http://americanbuilt.us/patriots/charles-lindbergh.shtml
**** https://biblehub.com/psalms/137-7.htm
***** https://biblehub.com/psalms/96-7.htm

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