Jimmy Ley Collection

James “Jimmy” J. Ley attended Grinnell College for two years before enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Force in 1942. Ley’s papers include an extensive series of correspondence written by Ley during his time at Grinnell and in the army air force, as well as personal items, photographs, and military documents.

Ley, Jimmy
After his short visit to London, Jimmy looks forward to a longer furlough. He received a Christmas card from Bill Vance, his Grinnell roommate. Jimmy earned an Oak Leaf Cluster and has completed fifteen raids.

Ruth talks about her husband's job and the health of her son, Dave. She then starts to write about family friends and the well being of their children. Currently, Sue is in the hospital with pneumonia. Ruth mentions how proud everyone is that Jimmy is recieveing both the Air Medal and the Oak Leaf Cluster, but is sad that he couldn't return home for his furlough.

Ley, Jimmy
Jimmy returned from a furlough visit to the coast. He encloses a photograph of the crew.

Ley, Jimmy
Jimmy responds to news from home.

Ley, Jimmy
Jimmy mentions war news, what he had for dinner, and that he received a second Oak Leaf Cluster.

Ruth complains about a toothache from a bad cavity and chats about a shopping trip with friends. She then writes about her brother Vic who was able to connect with an old college buddy who is also in service in the Pacific. After explaining how ecstatic Vic was, she tells Jimmy that David has sent him a valentine.

Ley, Jimmy
Jimmy received a letter from Aunt Ada and fondly remembers wintertime in Lakota.

Ley, Jimmy
In Jimmy’s final letter he says that he hopes to pursue pilot’s training in the US.

Marietta talks about her daughter and how she wishes her husband could have met the baby before he passed while serving. Through another pilot Marietta was able to find out the circumstances of Bennie's death. She tells Lucille about how she received a medal in his name and hopes Lucille has heard from Jimmy.

Anna Lee implies in her letter that she has recived word that her son is dead. She mentions that she is still praying for the other members of the crew that are only reported as missing, including Jimmy. Anna Lee tells Lucille about an old friend of her son that paid her a visit and the good memories he brought back. She asks Lucille to write back any news she hears.

Anna Lee talks about her son and his reported death. She mentions that her son sometimes talked about Jimmy in his letters home as they were part of the same crew. She offers her sympathy to Lucille (presumably because Jimmy has been reported as missing) and hopes that maybe they have heard different news.

Mrs. Luke thanks Lucille for her letter and for the additional information Lucille was able to provide about the circumstances of her stepson George's death. She requests a copy of one of Lucille's photographs. She says she is glad to know some of the crew of the plane is still missing and not officially pronounced dead, and she hopes for good news soon. Mrs. Luke describes her internal struggle with her hatred for the Germans. She tells Lucille a little about George, about her own children, and about George's older brother who was also killed in action.

Anna Lee mentions the connections she's created with the other crew members' parents. She sends pictures and information regarding crew to keep Lucille updated on the situation. She asks Lucille if she has recieved the last letter one of the crew member's was able to write and says that if not she will send it her way.

Mary, another mother with a son reported as missing, writes to Lucille to tell her she has not yet recieved her son Kenneth's personal items. She writes that her other son in England communicated with some of the boys from Kenneth's base who have high hopes the crew will return. Finally Mary relates to Lucille how her family has changed since the start of the war.

A Purple Heart certificate posthumously awarded to Jimmy Ley on 18 September 1945.

Hazel informs Lucille that she has read and forwarded the Christmas card to her son John who is a fighter pilot stationed in the South Pacific. She emphasizes how sad she and John were to hear that Jimmy is missing. She informs Lucille that John is not returning home until at least March. She expresses solidarity as another mother of a soldier and encourages Lucille to have courage and to hold out hope for Jimmy's return.

Marietta writes about her mother's sudden heart attack and her trouble taking care of Bonnie, her daughter. She asks Lucille if she has recieved any more information about Jimmy. Marietta tells Lucille that hearing news from other soldiers about her husband always makes her happy.

Anna Lee writes to Lucille about visiting her parents. She says she continues to pray for the missing crew members and that she hopes they have escaped. She tells Lucille to keep busy her and her husband have bought some chicks.

Anna Lee writes about missing the presentation of her son's awards due to bad weather conditions. Then, she talks specifically about their son's personal items they recieved. Anna Lee tells Lucille about her two contacts in Germany and France looking for more information on the crew by looking in prison camps and checking graves. She continues to pray for good news.

Mary asks if Lucille has heard from Jimmy and mentions she has not yet heard from her own son. She wonders whether or not Lucille's letter to the governement was ever answered. Mary feels happy now that the war is over and her other sons can return home.