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Manuscripts by Subject - Military - #11214

Title: Register Family                    

Dates: 1883-2014

Collection Number: MSS 11214

Quantity: 1.5 feet

Abstract: The bulk of the documents pertain to the military career of Bismarck (ND) native aerial combat ace Francis Roland “Pinky” Register (also known as “Cash”) and his wife Ruth, who served in the Red Cross during World War II. Most of this material was researched and compiled by Dr. William Franklin Hook for his 2014 book, Pinky: the Story of North Dakota’s First Aerial Combat Ace on Guadalcanal.

The documents include correspondence, telegrams, Francis’ diary (with transcription), radio broadcast transcripts, information about citations and awards he received, newspaper clippings, Hook’s research on Attu, the Aleutians, and the USS Nassau, action reports, Register family records and material about Ralph A. Jensen.

The collection also includes papers of Francis Roland’s grandfather, Francis Henry Register (1859-1929) (Bismarck, ND), which consists of a license to practice law in the District Courts, and material concerning President Theodore Roosevelt’s visit to Bismarck in 1903. He was an attorney, Mayor of Bismarck (ND), and Burleigh County State's Attorney. The collection also includes the papers of Francis Henry's siblings: Ella M., Mary Elizabeth, Cornelia and George M. Register. A photocopied scrapbook documenting the career of Francis Roland’s uncle, George S. Register (1901-1972) (U.S. District Court Judge) (Bismarck, ND), is in the collection as well.

Provenance: The collection was donated to the State Historical Society of North Dakota by Colonel William Franklin Hook, MD, on February 24, 2014. Bill Register gave the materials to Dr. Hook and authorized him to donate the collection to the SHSND.

The Francis Henry Register Papers (MSS 20290), George S. Register Papers (MSS 20588), Francis R. Register Papers (MSS 20775) and Francis “Cash” and Ruth Register Papers (MSS 20978) were transferred to the collection in February 2014. Additional papers of siblings Francis H., Ella M., George M., Mary Elizabeth and Cornelia Register were added to the collection in July 2016. They were separated from MSS 10553, the Frank E. Vyzralek Papers. It is unknown how Vyzralek acquired the papers.

Property rights: The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to the collection.

Copyrights: Copyrights to materials in this collection remain with the donor, publisher, author, or author's heirs.  Researchers should consult the 1976 Copyright Act, Public Law 94-553, Title 17, U.S. Code and an archivist at this repository if clarification of copyright requirements is needed.  Permission to use any radio or television broadcast portions of the collection must be sought from the creator.

Access: This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Citation: Researchers are requested to cite the collection title, collection number, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.
Related Collections:
Veterans Oral History Project, tape 1148: Interview with Ruth Christianson Register
MSS 11169: Colonel William Franklin Hook Papers, 1989-2012
Museum Division collections, including #14335, Francis R. Register’s flight log

Review of Pinky: the Story of North Dakota’s First Aerial Combat Ace on Guadalcanal
by Robert Wefald in the Bismarck Tribune, February 16, 2014

Author Dr. Franklin Hook grew up in Bismarck and practiced medicine here for many years. Hook served three years in the Navy and subsequently joined the Army Reserve.
As a colonel, he commanded the 311th Evacuation Hospital during its deployment to the Middle East during the first Persian Gulf War in 1991.

"Pinky" is written as narrative history of the service of North Dakota's first ace in World War II, Lt. Francis R. "Pinky" Register, U.S. Navy, who is credited with eight confirmed victories over Japanese aircraft.

Hook nicely uses Register's diary, which he kept contrary to orders that no one should keep a diary, and interweaves it with available historical material to create a fascinating account of his Bismarck roots, training, his eight victories in the sky over Guadalcanal, to his death in Attu, Alaska, on May 16, 1943. "Pinky" for me was particularly enjoyable as it deals with a part of Bismarck's history.

Pinky Register, a 1935 graduate of Bismarck High School, received an associate degree from the North Dakota State School of Science in 1937. He came home to work for the Soil Conservation Service and started taking flying lessons in the Civil Aeronautics Association.

He joined the Navy Aviation Cadet Program, but continued working in his job until the Navy called him up in March 1941. Hook uses his diary to follow him through flight training, which he finished just after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, in which his uncle, Lt. Commander Paul James Register, U.S. Navy, of Bismarck, was killed and entombed in the USS Arizona.

Ensign Register came home on leave and got engaged to his sweetheart, Ruth Christianson, the daughter of Justice A.M. Christianson of the Supreme Court. They were married in California in February 1942.

With his last name of Register, his squadron mates called him "Cash." Register flew the Grumman 4F4 Wildcat fighter. His diary shows his frustration with not getting into the fight against Japan right away, but he wound up in the thick of the air combat when his squadron flew into Guadalcanal on Sept. 11, 1942. Before he was evacuated on Oct. 15, 1942, he had a very impressive eight confirmed victories over Japanese planes.

Lt. (jg) Register and his wife returned to Bismarck on leave in early December 1942. The Bismarck Tribune carried a story with the caption, "Bismarck Friends Not Surprised That Register Is Ace War Flier." He was sent to Hawaii, where he wanted to fly the F6F Wildcat or the F4U Corsair, but the Navy kept him flying the 4F4 Wildcat.

In the spring of 1943, his squadron was on a small aircraft carrier supporting landings in Attu, Alaska, as the Army began the effort to drive the Japanese out of islands in the Aleutian Islands they had invaded early in 1942. The commander of one of the two U.S. Army invasion forces was Lt. Col. Albert Hartl, U.S. Army, of Bismarck.

It's ironic that Hartl watched Register’s plane crash on Attu, and he helped to bury him. Hartl reported that it was not known why Register's plane crashed as it could have been due to weather or antiaircraft fire.

"Pinky" is a good read and a fine tribute to Bismarck's World War II Navy ace.


Box 1:
1 Correspondence, 1942-1997
2 Telegrams, ca. 1942-1943
3 Diary (transcription), 1941-1942
4 “It Happened in the Service” interview transcript and other broadcasts, 1942
5 Citations and awards, appointment as an ensign, copy of Purple Heart award, 1941-1944
6 Newspaper clippings about Francis and Ruth, 1941-1945
7 Newspaper clippings, miscellaneous WWI, 1942-1943
8 Attu and Aleutians research, compiled ca. 2013
9 USS Nassau data and action reports, 1943
10 Miscellaneous WWII records, 1941-2013
11 Information about Dr. Hook’s book Pinky: the Story of North Dakota’s First Aerial Combat Ace on Guadalcanal, 2013
12 Photocopies and computer generated prints of photographs, ca.1880s-1984
13 Register family records, n.d.
14 Newspaper clippings about the Register family, 1942-1957
15 William (Bill) Register, 1942-2013
16 Ruth (Christianson) Register, 1943-2013
17 Mr. and Mrs. A. M. Christianson (Ruth’s parents), 1943-2013
18 Ralph A. Jensen (St. Paul, MN), 1941-1942
19 Article from LOGBOOK magazine Volume 7, Number 2: “Carrier War in Alaska,” 2006
20 George M. Register correspondence, 1910-1934

Box 2:
1 Francis Henry Register Papers: obituary, license to practice law in the District Courts,
telegrams, and correspondence concerning President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1903 visit to
Bismarck, 1883-1903
2 Loose correspondence pages, ca. 1911-1934
3 Miscellaneous correspondents, ca. 1911-1915
4 George S. Register Papers: obituary and photocopy of a scrapbook of newspaper clippings documenting Register's career as a U.S. District Court Judge, 1955-1956
5 Miscellaneous: genealogy of unknown Register family member, legal documents, Home Defenders Committee measure, commencement programs for Bismarck High School, financial statement of the McCabe Methodist Episcopal Church (leaflet), State Normal School bulletin, 1912-1920

Box 3:    Diary of Francis R. Register, 1941-1942

Box 4:    Photographs:
11214-01              Francis R. Register portrait, ca. 1942
11214-02              Francis R. Register portrait, ca. 1942
11214-03              Francis R. Register in cockpit of airplane, ca. 1942
11214-04              Francis R. Register in cockpit of airplane, ca. 1942

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