• Image of four aviators at leisure, playing cribbage

    Aleutian World War II

    National Historic Area Alaska

Thomas Erickson

Thomas Erickson served as a Navy co-pilot in the PV-1 Ventura bomber/recon plane in 1943-44. He primarily flew missions from the base on Attu to the Kurile Islands of Japan. Flights were hazardous with heavy enemy fire and fighter attacks over the Kurile Islands and weather. Operating on the edge of fuel limits in the 9+ hour round trip flight to the Kurile’s left little room for mistakes. Erickson flew on Grange McKinney’s crew. Thomas’ written account describes the missions flown, crew losses and life in the Aleutians.

Did You Know?

A PBY plane surrounded by crew

A PBY plane piloted by Lt. Jean Cusick was sent from Dutch Harbor, on June 3, 1942, to locate Japanese forces in the Pacific. He was shot down by enemy fighters en route. Five men out of the seven-man crew survived the crash and got into life rafts. Cusick and his enlisted pilot died on the rafts from their wounds. The other three were captured by the Japanese, and became the first prisoners of war in the Aleutian Campaign.