Ralph Yerks was the third and youngest son of George Oakley Yerks and Annie Cutler. According to his draft registration card filed on June 5, 1917, Ralph was single, living in Rye and was working as a plumbers helper. His two brothers, Leroy (later known as James Leroy) and William Benjamin also registered for the draft on June 5, 1917. The oldest son, William Benjamin Yerks was a single Teamster and also lived in Rye with his mother and father. Leroy Yerks had married Kathryn Regan of Goldens Bridge in the summer of 1911. The year he registered for the draft, he and his family (wife and two boys) were living in Somers and had requested an exception for his “Family” status.
On June 6, 1917, Ralph Yerks was enlisted and reported to Fort Slocum in New York City. Fort Slocum, was a US military base occupying Davids’ Island and Hart Island at the western end of Long Island Sound. There he was assigned to Company K of the 9th Infantry Regiment. Once overseas, the 9th Infantry joined the 2nd Infantry Division.