m a r k e r i c k s o n p a i n t i n g s Lt. Ernest Anders Erickson Air Corps 1942 - 1945
Click to view Lt. Ernest Anders Erickson's complete thirty five mission list and twelve B-17 Flying Fortresses flown between March 27th thru August 26th, 1944 out of Horham Airfield, England.
I often wonder what my father, Ernest Anders Erickson was like at 19 years old when he joined the Air Corps in January of 1942 in Minneapolis. No doubt excited about the idea of finally being a pilot that he dreamed of since he was a young boy on the Dakota plains.
He and his father Frank drove from Bismarck for Ernest Anders to sign up. Afterwards both headed home and awaited word from the Air Corps. Two months later my father received (attached below) a letter dated March 16th, 1942 from the "Headquarters Minneapolis Aviation Cadet Examining Board.
As the document reads:
On the day he received the letter Ernest Anders was just five months shy of his 20th birthday. He was on his way to being a pilot. By the Fall of 1942 he would be in Brady, Texas in the midst of the beginning of his life long aviation career.
At the time of this photograph in late 1942, Cadet Erickson was "just a rookie" as he liked to call himself, sitting in the cockpit of a P-19 waiting for his instructor to give him the go-ahead. He was stationed at flight training at Curtis Field / Kelly Field in Brady, Texas. In the second photo Cadet Erickson is shown checking his gear after a successful solo flight in a P-19 at Curtis Field in early 1943.
The photographs below were taken between 1942 and 1945 and present a young man at the end his teenager years and preparing himself to be a bomber pilot and succeeding in that endeavor. Over the span of just 18 months you can see how Lt. Erickson transformed from the rookie Cadet to a seasoned pilot of a B-17.
In the last photo from mid 1944, Lt. Erickson's hair grayed slightly at the sides and a look of experince and confidence. Remarkable when I look at all this and have come to appreciate long ago the extraordinary challenges he and his wartime companions faced, and the extraordinary courage they demonstrated.
Ernest had only been as far as Washington state from his home in Bismarck before that day in 1942 when he stepped down onto the train station in San Antonio, Texas to see if he had what it took to pilot a fighter plane or a bomber.
Lt. Ernest Anders Erickson (third photo below) graduated from Blackland Airfield in October of 1943 and received his wings and became a B-17 pilot. He then made a beeline for a visit to his family in Dakota. The happy reunion at home with his mother can be seen in the link below.
Ernest left the states in January of 1944 and would be permanently stationed at Horham Airfield in England with the 95th Bomb Group (Heavy) through October of 1944.
By the late Summer of 1944 Lt. Erickson had flown over 25 missions and received the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) awarded to him by Colonel Karl Truesdell Jr. at Horham Airfield in England. He was only 21 years old at the time. Photograph below of the DFC ceremony along with a 'Performance of Combat Crew Personal' document wriiten by Colonel Truesdell. It reflects Lt. Erickson's record and activities during his combat flying of 35 missions and what medals/citations he received in 1944.
Lt. Ernest Anders Erickson flew thirty five missions over German occupied Europe with the 334th Squadron and came home without a scratch, yet had life changing experiences and memories that he dealt with over the rest of his life.
Growing up with him as his son I was fortunate to hear many of his Air Corps tales and the rest were left for me to find in his archives. Ernest's letters and mission notes told another level of his story that is both compelling and awe inspiring. Many of these can be found on various pages of this website.
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