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.
General William Billy Mitchell was an Army general who is regarded as the father of the Air Force. Rightly so. Mitchell served in France during the first war and by the end, commanded all American air combat units in that country.
My Uncle Andy (Anders) Sebran Erickson served with the 101st Aero Squadron and stands in the photograph below with the 101st in 1918. It is a rare image of the 101st of the AEF (American Expeditionary Forces), based at Issoudun Aerodrome, near Bourges on Field 5 in 1918. The groups planes, the Nieuport 24 BIS (Bosch Injection System) bookend the airmen. American's flying French aircraft with German engines bombing Germany and France! So the crazy story of wars go.
Interesting to note is the Reconnaissance Observation balloon hovering over the hangars on the left. Also there is a military pitch tar burner smoking in the background with the men at work on the roofing of the hangars. The plane behind the men on the left with the red nose is from the 31st Aero who shared the adjoining strip on Field 5.
Andy was ground crewman and engine mechanic, he also repaired the fabric covering and the wooden spars on the wings and sides of the planes when they came back battered in combat. When the Squadron was grounded Andy became the driver for the commanding officers.
After the war, General Mitchell was appointed deputy director of the Air Service and began advocating increased investment in air power, believing that this would prove vital in future wars. He argued particularly for the ability of bombers to sink battleships and organized a series of bombing runs against stationary ships designed to test the idea.
He antagonized many leaders of the Army with his arguments and criticism and, in 1925, was returned from appointment as a brigadier general to his permanent rank of colonel due to his insubordination. Later that year, he was court-martialed for insubordination after accusing Army and Navy leaders of an "almost treasonable administration of the national defense" for investing in battleships instead of aircraft carriers. He resigned from the service shortly afterward.
Mitchell received many honors, including a commission by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a major general. He is also the only individual for whom an American military aircraft design, the North American B-25 Mitchell, is named.
Sadly late for General Mitchell, but in time and especially by the late 1930s Mitchell was vindicated and in the eyes of the 8th Air Force was recognized as an individual with strong convictions on the use of air power and far ahead of his times. His recognition by many in the military and beyond as the father of the Air Force is only right. If only he could have seen the massive streams of B-24s, B-25s and B-17s heading over Nazi occupied Europe, General Mitchell truly would have smiled.
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