USS SLC Cruise Book...Officer...Thomas W. Erickson, Ensign
Thomas Erickson passed away on March 6th, 1945
Jan. 27th, 2001
Sent in by "J" Epperson
Robert M. Epperson,
flew with Ensign Erickson as his aircrewman.
He told us about his death many times. Apparently he was killed when a
non-flying artillary officer,
Robert F. Gallagher, the ship's fire control officer, (officer
responsible for directing the fire of the main batteries of guns), kept
arguing with our spots. Saying we were flying to high and weren't
spotting right." My Dad (Epperson) said the other fire control people
thought their spots were "right on". He said he thinks he was using
that as an excuse to get a ride over the island. Since he outranked
Erickson, he wanted him to know he was "in charge". Rather bossy.
Apparently, as a matter of course, they left the bottom of the parachute
harness unbuckled until they were airborne. That made it easier to get
out of the parachute if they crashed on take off. Gallagher didn't much
care to have my Dad explain how to hook up the straps and how to re-set
the radio that always got bumped around from the catapult. "He was a
know it all."
They watched the plane take off to the North and then turn left toward the
island. "They stayed real close to the water right in over the beach and
staying so low it didn't take long for the 'japs' to get them.
Then when Gallagher opened his parachute he fell right out the bottom of it."
When the marines on the island saw the plane crash land they made a
charge up the hill in an attempt to resue the pilot. However
when they got to the plane Ensign Erickson was dead.
He had completely clawed through the outside of his
"May West" and flight suit trying to pull his
parachute cord even though he was too far into shock
to know that he was still in the plane. Apparently
the shell had exploded in his lap and the loss of
blood from the wounds caused his death.
Even though that had happened he had kept the plane flying long
enough to allow the pasenger time to jump free. If
that fellow had paid attention to my Dad when he tried
to help him with the parachute harness, he may have survived.
"Those Who Died"
USS SLC RECORDS...Nov. 28, 1941 to Oct. 22, 1945
Compiled from Unofficial Fireroom Records
March 6, 1945
.....One of our OS-2-U shot down with Lt. Robert F. Gallagher and Thos. W. Erickson, Ensign.
SLC Deck Log Jun. 1944
"Those who died" list
Received the Air Medal
Received the Purple Heart
Mentioned in USS SLC Cruise Book
Memories from R. M. Epperson, ARM1c & Picture
Death over Iwo Jima by Robert Serazin
Mentioned in the Journal of Marion F. Jordan