JOHN A. MINNIS, CAPT, USMC

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

John Minnis '15

Date of birth: June 6, 1891

Date of death: September 23, 1921

Age: 30

Lucky Bag

From the 1915 Lucky Bag:

Biography

1915 Minnis 1.jpg

From Find A Grave:

John Andrew Minnis was born the son of Joseph Henry and Maggie Stokes Minnis in Alabama on June 6, 1891.

He was educated at Starke's School (later known as Starke University School), graduating in 1911. He also assisted then Professor John Metcalfe Starke in teaching at the school before entering the U.S. Naval Academy later that year. He was appointed by Senator J.H. Bankhead.

At the academy, he was known as "John", "Scotty", and "Scotchman." John Minnis was a great athlete, involved in baseball, basketball and football. He graduated as part of the class of 1915 and was commissioned as an officer in the Marine Corps.

On January 5, 1916, Lt John Minnis and Miss Laura Winkler were married by the Rev. E.E. Cobbs at St Thomas Episcopal Church in Greenville, Alabama. One of their gifts was described as a "handsome silver tea service on a mahogany tray, mounted in silver with the naval insignia in the center." The tea service was the gift of the U.S. Naval Class of 1915.

They were blessed on October 18, 1916, with the birth of their first child and daughter, Laura Winkler Minnis.

Lt Minnis was in several battles at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He also took part in several major engagements in France during World War I. Late in 1918, he was wounded. Lt. John Minnis was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Navy Cross for gallantry.

According to Find a Grave member Charles McDowell, Captain Minnis was attached to the 38th Infantry Regiment (3rd Division) and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in action on July 15, 1918, near Mezy, France (see War Department General Orders No. 22 dated April 8, 1920). He was also awarded the Navy Cross for the same action.

After the war ended, Captain Minnis transferred to the Aviation section of the Marine Corps and was stationed at Quantico Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia. He developed a great reputation for flying.

On the night of September 23, 1921, Captain Minnis was participating in maneuvers, attempting to escape from the beams of large searchlights which were sweeping the skies. When he was last seen, Captain Minnis executed a nose dive to evade the lights. The water around the area of Quantico Creek and the Potomac River was about twelve feet and it was several hours before it was realized that Captain Minnis' aircraft had crashed, and his body recovered.

Survivors included his widow, Mrs. Laura Winkler Minnis; his daughter, also Laura Winkler Minnis; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Minnis of Montgomery, Alabama; and two sisters, Mrs. Lucile Dudley Dawson of Montgomery; and Mrs. Ruth Boyd Bateman of Norwalk, Ohio.

Services were held at Quantico Marine Corps Base. The body of Captain Minnis arrived at Greenville on September 26, 1921, accompanied by Mrs. Minnis and their daughter; Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Minnis; Judge C.F. Winkler and Mr. E.H. Winkler, brothers-in-law of Captain Winkler, who traveled to Quantico to support their sister, accompanied them.

Funeral services were conducted by Dr. J.O. Grogan and internment took place on Tuesday morning, September 27, 1921, at Pine Crest Cemetery.

According to the Greenville, Alabama, Advocate, dated May 3, 1922, Mrs. Laura Minnis and her daughter Laura Winkler Minnis traveled to the U.S. Marine Corp Post at Quantico. Laura Winkler Minnis was to unveil the monument which fellow Marine Corps aviators had built in honor of the late Captain John Minnis.

From information from the National Museum of the Marine Corps, the original bridge dedicated to Captain Minnis in 1922 was torn down in 1933, and a newer one dedicated in 1968, and is still in use. The original dedication plaque is located in storage at the Museum. A road was also dedicated to Captain Minnis, but it is not known if it still exists.

He is buried in Alabama.

Navy Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Captain John Andrew Minnis (MCSN: 0-671), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism while serving with the 38th Infantry Regiment (Army) (Attached), 2d Division, A.E.F., in action near Mezy, France, 15 July 1918. During the enemy drive Captain Minnis fearlessly reorganized a unit that had lost its officers and held his position against the enemy assault. A short time later he gallantly led fifteen men in a counterattack under heavy enemy machine-gun fire. He repulsed the enemy and captured twenty-four prisoners.

Service: Marine Corps
Division: 2d Division, American Expeditionary Forces
Rank: Captain

Distinguished Service Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Captain John Andrew Minnis (MCSN: 0-671), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism while serving with the 38th Infantry Regiment (Army) (Attached), 2d Division, A.E.F., in action near Mezy, France, 15 July 1918. During the enemy drive Captain Minnis fearlessly reorganized a unit that had lost its officers and held his position against the enemy assault. A short time later he gallantly led fifteen men in a counterattack under heavy enemy machine-gun fire. He repulsed the enemy and captured twenty-four prisoners.

General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 22 (1920)
Service: Marine Corps
Division: 2d Division, American Expeditionary Forces
Rank: Captain

Other

John was commanding officer of the 96th Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines at the end of World War I. He was involved in developing new combat tactics, especially combined infantry and tank operations.


Class of 1915

John is one of 17 members of the Class of 1915 in Memorial Hall.