2/Lt. Wilton G. Erickson
2/Lt. Wilton G. Erickson
38th FS - 19 November 1943 - 01 December 1943 (Killed in Action)
|Notes||Born on 22 August 1918
Entered service from Ohio
ASN - O-748934
19 November 1943 - Joined the 38th Fighter Squadron
01 December 1943 - Killed in Action
MACR No. 01430
Captain Joseph Myers reported: "The 55th Fighter Group was engaged in escorting B-24s on a bombing mission into western Germany on the 1st of December 1943 and I was leading the 38th Fighter Squadron with Lt. W. G. Erickson as my wingman. I noticed from the start of the mission that Lt. Erickson was very erratic and even dangerous to the rest of the squadron in his formation flying. As this was his first combat flight I presumed that it was due probably to nervousness or excitement. He stayed on my wing during all engagements with the enemy and was still there when we broke away from the bombers to reform the group to return home."
"We made two 360 degree turns in order to reform and I am certain he was with me at the start of those turns but that was the last time I actually saw him. When we straightened out on our homeward course another plane evidently moved onto my wing and from then until we arrived at the French coast I continued to think that this was still Lt. Erickson. His radio evidently was not functioning as I called him several times but did not receive an answer. I do not believe he was lost due to enemy action while he was with the rest of the group as we were never seriously attacked but believe he may have had mechanical trouble or other difficulty and was unable to request help."
2/Lt. Donald Penn reported: "On December 1, 1943, the 55th Fighter Group took off at 1010 on a bomber escort mission. Lt. Wilton Erickson was flying Swindle White 2 position, on his first mission. I was Swindle White 4. The flight was lead by Captain Myers and Lt. Gerald Brown was flying number 3 position. Lt. Erickson's formation flying was very erratic and on one occasion he nearly collided with Capt. Myers. On three occasions he was called by Lt. Brown or Capt. Myers over the R/T and told to settle down.
"At about 1130 we were attacked by enemy aircraft in the vicinity of Boem. The group orbited several times and Lt. Erickson was with us then. We headed back toward the bombers and Lt. Erickson was straggling. I brought him back to the formation. We orbited twice to reform and return home. I never saw Lt. Erickson again. To the best of my knowledge he was not lost due to enemy action as there were no attacks made on Swindle White flight."
Robert M. Littlefield: Perhaps Lt. Erickson had mechanical failure. Erratic behaviour by a fighter pilot frequently indicated a lack of oxygen. In that case he would not recognize his call sign, maybe only his name when called on the radio.
2/Lt. Erickson was from Ohio. His name is on the Wall of the Missing,
Cambridge American Military Cemetery and Monument, Coton, Cambridge,
Note - 2/Lt. Wilton G. Erickson's remains have now been recovered.
|Memories||I was travelling through Europe with my wife
and had set aside a little time to spend in the Ardennes area where the
battle of the bulge was fought.
A book I had read ( Massacre at Malmedy ) spoke of a little girl, Tina Scholzen, who ran out to a group of German officers who were walking on the road ,to warn them of the Americans up the road in the little town of Lanzerath, Belgium. At that moment, a soldier named ,Sac James, had a bead on them with a machine gun and was about to fire but held his fire for fear of hitting the little girl. Twenty three years later, Sac went back and found Tina who now had children.
As I went through the town and took a few pictures, I stopped at a house to ask if Tina still lived there. The lady I talked to couldn't understand English but then a young girl in her 20's came running out of the back and said ,"You are so lucky. I speak English and am interested in history ". I got to meet Tina and now her granddaughter interpreted for her.
Just as we were about to leave, Anja , my new friend, said, " Did you know about the grave out back ?' She said that the farmer next door was ploughing up airplane parts and notified authorities which resulted in the identification of Lt. Erickson. It was a rainy day, but all at once the rain stopped and it cleared so we hiked half an hour down into the field and next to the woods was the head stone, with this inscription:
Wilton G Erickson
55th Fighter Group
38th Fighter Squadron
over 54 yr. MIA
Driving away that day, I found myself asking," Was this meant to be that I found this missing pilot ?"
Jim Parish, Chandler Az. (March 2005)
Crash relic from Lt. Erickson's P-38 (Landing Gear Door Stop Valve)
Lt. Erickson's name on the Wall of the Missing, Madingley Military
Cemetery, Cambridge, England. (R. Abbey)
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