Oklahoma City veteran receives French honor

World War II veteran Charles Erickson was honored for his service in France.
BY GRANT MOAK Published: May 4, 2013

On April 16, Charles Erickson received the medal of Chevalier (Knight) in the French National Order of the Legion of Honor for his service in the cause of freedom and contributions in World War II to the liberation of France.

The ceremony took place in Oklahoma City.

Erickson joined the Army Air Corps in 1943 and became a flight engineer and gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress.

He flew 32 missions against military and industrial targets in Italy, France, Germany and the Balkans.

On July 18, 1944, his plane was shot down over Germany.

The sole survivor, he was captured and held prisoner by the Germans for nearly a year before being liberated by the British.

He received the Purple Heart, Prisoner of War Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and other citations.

U.S. veterans who risked their lives during World II to fight on French territory qualify to be decorated as Knights of the French Legion of Honor.

After the war, Erickson worked at Tinker Air Force Base, progressing in his career to division chief of tech services for several types of aircraft.

He retired in 1978.

Grant Moak is honorary French counsel in Oklahoma City.