m a r k e r i c k s o n p a i n t i n g s Frank Severin Erickson Ernest Julius Erickson Andrew Anders Sebran Erickson American Expeditionary Force 1918 - 1919 Out West & North Dakota
My grandfather Frank Severin Erickson shown here in this photograph and along with my uncle Ernest Julius Erickson served as Oregon Railroad Deputies out of La Grande, Oregon in 1917 and 1918. Frank and Ernest Julius lived in rooming houses while they were traveling out west.
This period of their travels out west was just before the outbreak of the US involvement in World War I. Both would volunteer and be members of the American Expeditionary Force. Frank would serve with the 308th Infantry and fortunately become a surviving member of the well documented Lost Battalion The Lost Battalion, the name given to the nine companies of the United States 77th Division of the American Expeditionary Force, consisted of 554 men that were surrounded by German forces in the Argonne Forest in France between October 2nd through the 8th of 1918. Roughly 197 were killed in battle and approximately 150 went missing in action and or were taken prisoner. Only 194 remaining men walked out alive.
Ernest would serve with the 361st Infantry and found himself along with his regiment in the midst of the Battle of the Argonne Forest, in what would be referred to as The Meuse - Argonne Offensive located on the Western Front in France. It was fought from September 26th 1918, until the Armistice on the the 11th of November, 1918, a total of 47 days.
The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the largest in United States military history, involving 1.2 million American soldiers, and was one of a series of Allied attacks known as the Hundred Days Offensive, which brought an end to the war. The battle cost 28,000 German lives and 26,277 American lives, making it the largest and bloodiest operation of World War I for the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), which was commanded by General John J. Pershing.
Ernest Julius wrote often in his diary in dangerous situations, yet still having an unique sense of humor in these dire circumstances. I can only imagine what it was like to be stuck down in a cold muddy exposed trench, writing these thoughts as battles raged, sniper fire sounding and German artillery soaring overhead and ofttimes exploding far too close for comfort. He begins his final writings in his diary one morning on the 26th of September of 1918.
Ernest Julius wrote in his diary throughout the days of his and Franks adventures on the west coast and the link below will lead you to these entries and are well worth the read.
Below the photo of Frank you will find a still of Henry Fonda from one of my favorite westerns, the 1946 John Ford classic "My Darling Clementine." I think of this film whenever I see this photograph of my grandfather and especially think of the scene where Fonda performs a short dance while sitting in the chair with wooden support post of the saloon. Try and see the film if you never have. The story of the Earp Brothers and the Shoot-out at the OK Coral.
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