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
In 1921 my grandfather Pvt. Frank Gustaf Severin Erickson (standing 8th to the left of the US flag) along with his soon to be brother in-law Sture Albin Nelson (front row - holding the US flag) came together with other North Dakota personal of the military to commemorate the unveiling of the Riverview Obelisk. The Riverview Memorial was dedicated to those who served in the war.
In 2016 Riverview was officially added to the registry of the The World War I Memorial Inventory Project in Washington D.C. The Memorial Project honors the centennial of the Great War by assembling an inventory of all World War I memorials and monuments in the United States and U.S. territories. The project is working in partnership with the United States World War I Centennial Commission.
Many thanks to Director Mark Levitch for his diligent work on the Project. Much appreciation for adding Riverview to the inventory of WW1 Memorials. In the memories of many, this will stand well for all the families who lost their love ones.
Like many memorials across the states, Riverview is a sanctuary where one can go to honor, in this case Dakota service personal that gave their lives in the war. My Uncle Ernest Julius Erickson, Frank's older brother is buried there along with other members of the family. My father Lt. Ernest Anders Erickson, a veteran of the 95th Bomb Group, a B-17 pilot who flew with the 334th Squadron out of Horham Airfield in England in 1944 will have his ashes interned at Riverview in 2019.
Ernest Julius was killed while on a mission in the Argonne Forest in France on October 10th, 1918. He was with the 361st Infantry of the 91st Division and serving in Company C and had been in the intelligence section of the First Battalion through both Argonne drives in the Fall of 1918.
He had also been a scout, sniper, observer and runner and was a long-time expert riflemen starting at a very young age. Words from his commanding officer: "Ernest was one of the gamest men in the regiment and one of the most willing."
Below is a photograph of the headstone of Ernest Julius Alfred Erickson 1889 - 1918. From
all I have read and the stories told by people that knew Ernest Julius, he was a very special,
unique man who loved to write and sought adventure to his twilight.
The Riverview World War I Memorial - Wilton - North Dakota
Pvt. Frank Erickson was with the 308th Infantry of the 77th Division. He served with Company H as a runner / rifleman in France in 1918 and was member of an elite group, as a fortunate surviving member of the famed "Lost Battalion."
Frank along with less than 200 men escaped out of the ferocious fighting in the Argonne Forest on October 8th, 1918. He served on with the 308th beyond the Armistice in November of 1918 and returned home to Dakota in the Spring of 1919.
Ensign Sture Albin Nelson was a member of the U.S. Navy during the war. Sture was born in Landskrona, Sweden on May 2nd, 1896. He and his family came to the states in 1903. He grew up along with his sister, Clara Amelia (Erickson) and brothers August Valentine, Anton Tony, Albert "Bob" William and his parents Gerda (Miljander) and Anders Nelson on their farm in Painted Woods, North Dakota. Frank would marry Sture's younger sister Clara in the Spring of 1922.
On that day at Riverview, Frank and Sture along with the others pictured here represent the North Dakota servicemen who served in the war. All were present for the commemoration ceremony held on May 30th, 1921 on the plains of Dakota located along the Missouri River not far from the town of Wilton.
By the time Frank's ship headed west out into the Atlantic for home in 1919, he had seen far too much and withstood horrific experiences and was ready for the quiet of the endless plains of Dakota.
The well chronicled “Lost Battalion” was comprised of nine companies of the 77th Infantry Division. In the Argonne forest in early October of 1918, the division advanced toward the German line, believing themselves to be supported by French forces on their right flank.
However, the French advance was stalled and the division found itself surrounded by the Germans and cut off. For six days the men sustained heavy casualties, but held it's ground. At one point they were bombarded by American artillery and only ceased when a carrier pigeon got through to the main lines.
The message read: "We are along the road parallel 276.4. Our artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For Heavens sake stop it."
When the division was first created, the recruits were primarily drafted out of New York. Eventually many came from different areas of the country. Frank initially joined the American Expeditionary Force out Baker Oregon in 1917, but he represented North Dakota, where he would spend the rest of his life after the war.
Born in Sweden, Frank came to the states in 1903 at the age eleven years old and lived in North Dakota till he was eighteen in 1910. He then moved out west to find adventure, work and warmer climates.
By 1917 he and his brother, Ernest Julius Erickson were living in Oregon, working as Deputies for the railroad. They both joined the AEF at the same time, Ernest Julius's draft number came up first so he moved onto Camp Lewis for training with the 361st Infantry. By the time he shipped out of Brooklyn Harbor on July 8th, 1918 he would be headed first to Liverpool, England and then onto the Western Front in France.
The 77th Division was nicknamed the “Liberty Division,” sometimes referred to as the Statue of Liberty Division. Both of these are reflected by the image of the Statue of Liberty on the unit’s arm patch as you can see in this photograph of Frank's uniform.
Second photograph below of the Riverview Memorial was taken October 8th, 2017 by my cousin Mark Henninger of Bismarck, North Dakota. He did a nice job of recreating the same view / angle as the original photograph from the 1920s.
Mark's photograph gives a remarkable feel of the landscape of Riverview and coincidentally taken on the same date, 99 year after Frank's close escape from the Argonne with the survivors of the Lost Battalion. Mark's grandfather Andrew (Andy) Sebran Erickson is the younger brother of Frank and served in the 101st Aero Squadron in the Air Corps between 1918-1919 in France.
Third photograph was taken by my cousins Nick & Michael Boutrous of Bismarck. They visited the resting place of their uncle Ernest Julius Erickson who is buried at Riverview Cemetery.
And much appreciation to the scholar Susan Wefald of Bismarck North Dakota for her interest in the Riverview Memorial and her soon to be published article on North Dakota World War 1 monuments in which Riverview will be included.
The article will appear in 2018 in North Dakota History, the Journal of the Northern Plains. The magazine is produced by the State Historical Society of North Dakota. Her research involved the discovery of the specific date of the commemoration of the Riverview Memorial, that being May 30th, 1921. I am most grateful to her for that gem of a find.
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