Frances “Cash” Register, North Dakota’s first Ace

Nicknamed Pinky, Francis Register was born in 1917 and raised in Bismarck.  Pinky always had an interest in airplanes and with the coming of World War 2, he joined the Navy Air Forces and eventually became a full-fledged Flying Officer on December 12, 1941, just 5 days after the US entered the war.
As a Flight Officer, Pinky received his second nick name from his fellow flyers.  Francis “Cash” Register.
“Cash” entered the battle against the Japanese at a faraway South Pacific Island called Guadalcanal.  The Allies had a small toe hold on the Island and fought desperately to hang on.
Register flew the Grumman F4F Wildcat fighter against superior Japanese forces that were trying to retake that small portion of the island.  Supplies could not get through and the Guadalcanal force had to make do with what they had.  Keeping the planes flying was very difficult with almost no spare parts coming in.  Damaged planes were quickly cannibalized to keep other planes flying.  Register flew every mission he could and soon was shooting down enemy planes.  When Cash sent down his 5th Japanese plane in flames on September 27th, 1942, he became North Dakota’s first bonafide Ace.
The fighting went on at Guadalcanal and Register was able to down several more enemy planes but his physical condition was rapidly deteriorating.  Cash had trouble eating and he was losing weight.  He was succumbing to the tremendous strain of flying almost every day under such terrible conditions.
On October 1st, Register was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.  Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander of the United States Pacific Fleet, personally pinned it on his uniform.
On October 11 Cash was grounded by the Navy doctor and flown out on October 14, back to the states.
After several months leave, Register was called back to duty and headed for the north Pacific where Japan had taken over several islands in the Aleutians off Alaska.
Register served on the escort carrier, USS Nassau, supporting the landings on Attu to drive the Japanese from the island.  The weather in the Aleutians was described as some of the worst to fly in the world.
On May 16, 1943, Francis Roland Register, while assisting ground troops, crashed his fighter into a hillside and was killed.
He was buried at the Military Cemetery at Holtz Bay, Attu.  In 1948 his remains were disinterred and reburied in Bismarck.