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  B-26 "Thunder Bird" Serial Number 40-1480  
5th AF
22nd BG
2nd BS

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Houston March 9, 1943

Pilot  Captain Harry O. Patteson (survived) Midlothian, VA
Bombardier  Pvt Emil H. Erickson (KIA, BR) CO
Crashed  March 9, 1943
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Martin in Baltimore, Maryland. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-26 Marauder serial number 40-1480. Disassembled and shipped to Oahu and reassembled at the Hawaiian Air Depot (HAD) at Hickam Field.

Wartime History
During March 1942 assigned to the 22nd Bombardment Group, 2nd Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Thunder Bird".

During April 1942 flown overseas by 1st Lt. John R. East via Hickam Field then across the Pacific before arriving at Amberley Field near Brisbane on May 2, 1942. Assigned pilots East and Sutton with crew chiefs Gibson, Valasek and Schmigel.

On May 16, 1942 this B-26 flew its first combat mission against Lae. In total, this B-26 completed eleven combat missions before being lost.

Mission History
On March 9, 1943 took off from Woodstock Airfield in the afternoon piloted by Captain Harry O. Patteson on a training flight with student bombardiers aboard. Returning, this B-26 apparently ran out of fuel and Patteson attempted to reach the runway but crashed into trees roughly six miles away. During the crash, the bomber broke into three sections with the fuselage landing on the nose. The crew survived the crash unhurt. When exiting the damaged fuselage, Erickson fell roughly ten feet and sustained a head injury and died before the crew was rescued.

Fates of the Crew
The navigator departed the crash site and began walking to the north and reached a hospital and informed them his plane had crashed.

After the crash, search parties with flashlights searched almost all night for the crash site. A bushman was called into to assist with the search and questioned the navigator about what landmarks he had passed on his way to the hospital. Using a couple jeeps the bushman led the search. The bushman directed them to a point and said that they were where the plane should be. They fired a flare, and another was fired within 50 yards of them, found the wreckage. One crew member had died, the rest were unhurt.

Jim Houston, 22nd BG recalls the crash of a B-26:
"I was in the 22nd Bomb Group during the time we were flying the B-26. Every one went searching. They were found about midnight thanks to the help of an Aussie Bushman. What happened is that soon after they passed over the strip, the left engine quit."

Recovery of Remains
After the crash, the remains of Ereckson were recovered and buried in Australia until the end of the Pacific War when transported overseas for permanent burial.

Ereckson was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at section B, grave 1264.

Other sources list the nickname as "Thunderbird" (one words).
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-26 40-1480
"1480 (22nd BG) crashed near Woodstock, QLD Mar 9, 1943 due to fuel exhaustion. 1 killed."
Revenge of the Red Raiders pages 175-176, 477-478, 490
FindAGrave - Emil H Ereckson (grave photo)

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Last Updated
October 2, 2018


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