Erick C. Swenson

  • Technical Sergeant
  • WW II


Erick Carl Swenson was born on 4 January 1917 in Barrington, Rhode Island. He was the son of Carl and Maria Swenson. He was a 1935 graduate of Leander R. Peck High School, Barrington, Rhode Island. Erick was a superior student and active in many activities during high school. Erick entered Rhode Island State College (RISC) in September 1941, majoring in mechanical engineering. He participated in the Army ROTC program while a student. Erick enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces on 17 March 1942.

Private Erick Swenson graduated from the five-week U.S. Army Air Force Basic Training at Keesler Field, Biloxi, Mississippi and the six-week Arial Gunnery School, Harlingen Army Air Field, Harlingen, Texas where he was awarded his “Gunners Wings” upon graduation in January 1943. Private Swenson was assigned to the 599th Bomber Squadron, 397th Bombardment Group, 9th Army Air Forces.

Sergeant Swenson joined the 9th Army Air Forces in England in February 1944. The 9th Army Air Forces had been training to become the tactical air force for the invasion of the European Continent. The 9th helped prepare for the assault on Normandy, supported operations on the beach in June 1944 and took part in the drive that carried the Allies across France. On 23 December 1944, elements of the 599th Bomber Squadron, to include Sergeant Swenson’s B-26 Marauder “MISS FURIE” flew a mission in support of the Battle of the Bulge. It was the first day of combat flight operations after the weather finally broke to destroy a railroad bridge complex in Ediger-Eller, Germany.

As Sergeant Swenson’s B-26 dropped its bombs on the target, the formation was subjected to enemy aircraft attacks; and several planes were shot down including Sergeant Swenson’s plane. The crew bailed out and was immediately captured. Sadly, Sergeant Swenson and four other crew members were beaten and executed by the Germans. Only the co-pilot survived the ordeal. He was held in a German POW camp and repatriated by Russian forces in January 1945. Technical Sergeant Erick Carl Swenson, U.S. Army Air Forces was cited for Gallantry in Action and awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal (Posthumously).

                                                                              Citation – Air Medal with Eleven Oak Leaf Clusters

The Commanding General, Lieutenant General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, United States Army Allied Air Forces of the United States of America, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Medal with Eleven Oak Leaf Clusters to Technical Sergeant Erick C. Swenson, U.S. Army Air Forces, for meritorious achievement in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United States while serving as a B-26 Marauder (MISS FURIE) radio operator-gunner, Allied Air Forces, European Theater, 599th Bomb Squadron, 397th Bombardment Group, 9th Air Force. Technical Sergeant Erick C. Swenson’s, heroic and fearless actions during hostile contact has reflected the highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States.

Technical Sergeant Erick C. Swenson was buried with full military honors at the Luxembourg American Cemetery. Sergeant Swenson’s courage and devotion to duty contributed to the success of our forces in defeating the Germans and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Army Air Forces. He was a son of Rhode Island State College who answered the call to service during World War II and gave his life in service to the State of Rhode Island and our country. He was another member of the “Greatest Generation.”