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.
Air Corps Biography of Lt. Ernest Anders Erickson
Lost Battalion's Pvt. Frank G. S. Erickson
361st Infantry's Pfc. Ernest Julius Erickson
by Mark Jon Erickson
Family Archive Project website: http://markerickson.com/home.html
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10,000 Feet Above Normandy
Sometime in the evening of June 9th, 1944, my father, Lt. Ernest Anders Erickson
wrote a letter home to his family in North Dakota from Horham Airfield in England.
He was a pilot with the 95th Bomb Group and flying heavy bombers for the 8th Air
By now things have calmed, trapped along the sea wall, making it up to the concrete bunkers, burning them out one at a time....twenty at a time, a brutal game being played for real. Home seems so far away at this very instant. Amazing feats of heroics and sad endings of small mistakes, tripping over reality, being at the wrong place in the instant of a blinking eye. For the ones that never left the beach, the sea wall and the rocky cliffs in the Majesty of their gifts and regrets, we remember their courage. To their awaiting families at home and to the men ever vigilant struggling forward, far below the missions passing over heavens gate we marvel. Gaze into the Heavenly Skies, kiss them goodbye and pass the Ammunition.
From the Beginning
The Tale of Painted Woods
They painted their picture writings on the bleached wood, threatening, warning, declaring or boasting as the case might be, hence its name—Painted Woods. A fire swept thru in 1851 and burned these particular cottonwoods. The country around them was long the scene of conflicts between the arious indigenous tribes of the Great Northern Plains, the Dakota tribes being the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara and Sioux (both Yanktonai and Lakota). As nature will have it, the trees grew again and the locals again congregated around these sacred remembrances.
The Legend of Painted Woods was told by Frank (Frans) Severin Gustaf Erickson to me, his grandson, when I was a teenager on a visit to the family in Bismarck. Frank was born in Sundsvall, Sweden and immigrated to North Dakota with his family in 1903. After his time in the Army and surviving the 'Lost Battalion' fiasco during the First World War, Frank returned to home and eventually got married. My father, Ernest Anders Erickson was born on the family farm in Painted Woods, along the Missouri River, on August 4th 1922. Frank recalled this story from childhood:
Over a hundred and fifty years ago at the southern end of McClean County, south of Burleigh County, north of the state capital, Bismarck, North Dakota, on the east bank of the Missouri lies Painted Woods Lake. The lake was originally part of the Broken Axe Lakes of the Sioux Tribe, and known to early day trappers and fur traders as Medicine Lodge Lake. Some say the name Painted Woods also derives itself from the natural colors that follow the first frost along the former lake.
This elbow of the Missouri became known to the river men that eventually traversed the waterways of the Plains, not long after Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery Expedition concluded in 1806. The story of most significance comes from the farm-land way before my father’s birth, in the township of Painted Woods. The tale my grandfather recalled about the Dakota Territory is intriguing in more than a historic fashion, it is far closer to a cinematic scope.
When history meets fiction and lore becomes a fact is the core to many tales of the past. There are many mysteries about the north country lands. One can only hold onto the stories told by people that ived there, and who knew the ancestors of the folk that adventured these lands many years before them.
Venture back to the early 1800s on the Great Northern Plains, not far from Wilton by Painted Woods Lake, an area where the waters funnel into the Missouri, and witness this intriguing account. The story begins in what would be decades later referred to as Burleigh County, which was neutral ground between two tribes of the Sioux. A young girl from the Mandan tribe fell in love with a Yanktonai Sioux warrior, meeting daily on the banks of the river.
The two lovers had kept their relationship secret until the day the girl planned to leave with her lover to start a new life. The elders of the Mandans, once realizing she was gone were extremely displeased, and sent out warriors to find the girl and bring her back to the village. Upon finding the couple, the young man attempting to protect himself was slain by the warriors. As the girl knelt down to the young man, avenging Yankotonai arrows streamed in and killed the young woman.
The bodies of the lovers were placed in the branches of a cottonwood tree in the woods along the river.
Soon the tree withered and became white and bleached, just like the bones in the branches.
As decades passed and the couple became legend, celebrations were held on the shores of the Missouri River in their honor. Indians painting the trunks of the trees and tying colorful clothes to the cottonwoods, fires burning bright into the night, the whole area lit up bright in a full moon.
On a crisp late fall morning when walking out by the riverside, the great Missouri spreading out wide before you, one can stop at a point called Painted Woods and visualize the colors on the trees and see the shadows of the times gone by. During these quietest moments, with fresh snow on the ground, you can imagine the whispers of the two young lovers sitting along the river, staring out into the clear blue day of another stark North Dakotian landscape.
The Men From Painted Woods
My father, Ernest Anders Erickson was raised on the Erickson-Nelson family farm near the banks of the Missouri River. He was named after his Uncle Ernest Julius and that set for a life of proving his worth, which he certainly did in 1944 in England. Ernest's father, Frank Gustaf Severin Erickson named him after his older Brother Ernest Julius. Frank was born on December 12th, 1892 in Sundsvall, Sweden, and not long after his return from the war, he knew what his first son's name would be.
Ernest Julius Erickson was born in Torpshammer, Sweden on January 9th, 1889. When he was 28 years old, after living most of his life in North Dakota and Oregon, he joined the American Expeditionary Force (A.E.F.) in the Summer of 1917. It was after an adventurous year in Oregon, that the two brothers signed up together for the army out of Baker, Oregon.
The Erickson family emigrated from Sweden to North Dakota in 1903, when Ernest Julius was 14 years old
and Frank was 11. For the next 12 years Ernest Julius lived on a farm with his family on the Great Plains
along the Missouri River.
The Men From Painted Woods Biography
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