Vaughn Menzo "Eric" Erickson

April 9, 1924 ~ December 9, 2012

Vaughn Menzo Erickson passed away on December 9, 2012, at his home surrounded by family. He was born in Vancouver, WA on April 9, 1924, to Gus and Josephine Erickson. He lived his entire life in the Salmon Creek area and attended Salmon Creek School. As a teen he bicycled to the only airport in the area, the naval strip at Swan Island, where he fell in love with airplanes.
He graduated from Vancouver High School, then like many of his fellow countrymen joined the military at the start of WWII. Hoping to fly, he enlisted in the Army-Air Force on his birthday. He was a flight armament officer on the Madam-X B17 crew. With an uncanny ability as a marksman, and disregard for his height, he was assigned to be the crew's ball turret gunner. He was stationed in Nuthampstead, England where he flew 30 missions over enemy occupied Continental Europe. He was awarded the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Utah.Omaha/Gold.Juno.Sword Medal. He was discharged in 1945 and settled back in Vancouver.
Over the next 60 years he married, raised his family, and worked and retired from Crown Zellerbach in North Portland. He spent countless hours with family and friends bowling, camping, gardening, golfing, playing tennis, water skiing and sharing his love of planes. He spent his retirement years watching the grandkids play sports and reuniting with his WWII crew at the 8th Air Force annual reunions located all over the country. He was a member of the 8th Air Force Historical Society and 398th Bomb Group Memorial Association. He helped fund the restoration of the B17 Aluminum Overcast plane, which bears the 398th insignia. He volunteered as a guide whenever it was in town at the Evergreen Air Museum and the Hillsboro Airport. He loved telling how the airplane and ball turret worked to wide-eyed kids. He was a proud supporter of the Pearson Air Museum and donated many of his pictures and memorabilia to them. He was an active member of Trinity Lutheran Church.
He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Fern Erickson; his six children, Diana (George) Cruz, Steve (Carol) Erickson, Craig Erickson, Darrell (Julie) Erickson, Janine (Terry) Jander, and Karla (Bud) Ferderer; 10 grandsons and two granddaughters; and five great-grandsons and three great-granddaughters. He is also survived by his sister, Laura Kadow; sister-in-law, Audrey Erickson; and many cousins, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; and brother, Orville Erickson.
Memorial services will be held on Monday, December 17, 2012, at 11 a.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the for colon cancer research; the Oregon Chapter of the 8th Air Force Historical Society; or Trinity Lutheran Church.
Please sign Vaughn's guestbook at

Published in The Columbian on Dec. 14, 2012