Harry Custer Minsker was born February 19, 1916 to Harry Ludwig and Emma Minsker in Charleston, Kanawha County, West Virginia. Harry's father, Harry Ludwig Minsker, was a Captain in the United States Army, and the younger Harry was a direct decedent of Captain William Morris, who was killed in the first battle of the American Revolution.
Harry grew up in Charleston and was a graduate of Charleston High School. He also graduated from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (Virginia Tech) with a degree in chemical engineering.
Harry was appointed a 2nd Lieutenant in the Coast Artillery Corps, Reserve on October 14, 1937, and he accepted his commission on October 26, 1937. He entered into the active duty in the United States Army on January 5, 1941. He was sent overseas to the Pacific on July 15, 1941 to serve in the Philippines with the 59th Coast Artillery Regiment. During his time in the Philippines Harry was also promoted to 1st Lieutenant.
Harry served with the utmost dignity and bravery during his service. He was twice awarded the Silver Star for gallantry, and he was also awarded the Purple Heart. Unfortunately, Harry was captured as a prisoner of war when Corregidor fell and the remaining American and Filipino troops were forced to surrender to the invading Japanese army in 1942.
Harry was held as a prisoner of war in the Philippines for two years. While being transported to Japan on the Enoura Maru, Harry lost his life on January 9, 1945 when the unmarked ship was torpedoed by an Allied submarine.
Harry was awarded the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Clusters and the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Clusters. His body was buried at sea. In recognition of his honorable service in World War II, and for his ultimate sacrifice, Harry Custer Minsker's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery in Manila, Philippines, and Harry's was one of the original names inscribed on the West Virginia Veterans Memorial.
Hellships of World War II
West Virginia Veterans Memorial Archives Database
West Virginia Archives and History