Erickson, Leif, AFC

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Last Rank
Chief Petty Officer
Last Primary NEC
Sp(P)-Photographic Specialist
Last Rating/NEC Group
Photographer's Mate
Primary Unit
1945-1945, PH-8143, Naval Photographic Center (NPC)
Service Years
1941 - 1945
PH-Photographer's Mate
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 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Steven Loomis (SaigonShipyard), IC3 to remember Erickson, Leif (born William Wycliffe Anderson), AFC.

If you knew or served with this Sailor and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Contact Info
Home Town
Alameda, Alameda County, California
Last Address
Pensacola, Florida
Cremated, ashes scatter in unknown location.

Date of Passing
Jan 29, 1986
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

WW II Honorable Discharge Pin

 Unofficial Badges 

US Naval Reserve Honorable Discharge

 Military Association Memberships
Famous People Who Served
  2014, Famous People Who Served [Verified] - Assoc. Page

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

William Wycliffe Anderson
Navy Combat Photographer WWII´╗┐
aka: actor Leif Erickson
Erickson took off four years from his Hollywood career to serve in the Navy during World War II as a combat photographer.

He enlisted in 1941 and studied photography at the Naval Training School in Pensacola, and after graduation taught as an instructor/lecturer.  He was assigned to a Combat Photographic Team, shooting stills and movies in combat zones.  Erickson was shot down twice in the Pacific, and was twice wounded.  He was one of the combat photographers to cover the surrender of the Japanese on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Harbor at the end of WWII.  He shot over 200,000 feet of film for the Navy. Erickson left the Navy in December 1945, a Chief Photographer’s Mate.

Erickson was born in Alameda near San Francisco, California. He attended the University of California at Los Angeles, beginning his career as a soloist (singer/vocalist) and trombone player with the dance band of Ted Fio Rito (and his orchestra) during the 1930s, and it was Fio Rito who changed his name to the more memorable Leif Erickson. He then performed in Max Reinhardt's productions, and then gained a small amount of stage experience in a comedy vaudeville act

Initially billed by Paramount Pictures as Glenn Erickson, he officially changed his name to Leif Erickson in 1938, although he was occasionally credited as Erikson.  He began his screen career as a leading man in westerns making his film debut in two 1933 band films with Betty Grable before starting a string of Buster Crabbe western films based on Zane Grey novels.

Leif Erickson may be best know as Big John Cannon in the television series High Chaparral. In 1969, Leif returned to the Navy's Photographic Training School, a famous Hollywood actor. The staff and students, including one of his former pupils, were delighted as he talked about the latest motion picture equipment in use on the NBC hit, The High Chaparral.
Other Comments:

CinCPAC Publications and Information with
VD-5: Fleet Air Photographic Squadron (VD) 5
Chief Photographer's Mate Leif Erickson produced motion picture films and pre-landing photos of Iwo Jima with VD-5. Other targets routinely covered included Truk, Puluwat, Woleai, other Marshalls and Carolines, Marcus, Chicha Jima, Haha Jima and still Jap occupied islands in the Marianas. Both PB4Y-lPs and F6F-5Ps were used.

The landings at Iwo Jima were covered by planes for photographic and news coverage. All aerial photos of the landings were by: L. J. Bodkin, PhoMlc and J. F. Rankin, PhoM3c of the regular crew for still photos and Leif Erickson, CPhoM of CinCPAC Pub Info for motion pictures. Mr. Webbley Edwards of CBS accompanied them for the combined radio networks and gave a very graphic account of the operations after their return to Guam.

West Point Society Citation
"In November 1969, Erickson became the first man ever singled out by the West Point Society of Southern California to be cited in recognition of his many visits to military hospitals and installations throughout the United States and Vietnam.  A combat veteran of World War II, as a naval aerial photographer in the Pacific area, Leif was shot down twice and once deposited into the sea when the USS Nevada was hit by a Kamikaze (March 1945)." 
 Photo Album   (More...

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Air Crew Wings
Combat Air Crew Wings

 Duty Stations
School Assignments - StaffNaval Air Technical Training Command (Faculty Staff)/NATTC (Faculty Staff) Pensacola FLUS Pacific Command (USCINCPAC/USPACOM)/Pacific Fleet Mobile Photographic Unit(PH) Naval Photography School
Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet (CINCPACFLT)/Commander Pacific Fleet (COMPACFLT)VD-5 World RecordersUS NavyUSS Missouri (BB-63)
  1941-1941, PH-8288, Aviation Photography School
  1941-1942, PH-8143, Aerial Camera Maintenance and Repair
  1941-1943, PH-9502, Naval Air Technical Training Command (Faculty Staff)/NATTC (Faculty Staff) Pensacola FL
  1943-1944, PH-8288, US Pacific Command (USCINCPAC/USPACOM)/Pacific Fleet Mobile Photographic Unit
  1944-1945, PH-9502, (PH) Newsreel Photography School
  1944-1945, PH-8144, Intelligence and Information Operations N2 Division/Fleet Ocean Surveillance Information Center (FOSIC)
  1944-1945, PH-8143, VD-5 World Recorders
  1945-1945, PH-8143, USS Nevada (BB-36)
  1945-1945, PH-8143, USS Missouri (BB-63)
  1945-1945, PH-8143, Naval Photographic Center (NPC)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1942-1945 World War II
  1944-1945 World War II
  1945-1945 World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Surrender of Japan, End of WWII
 Colleges Attended 
University of California, Los Angeles
  1929-1933, University of California, Los Angeles
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  Nov 30, 1969, Citation from the West Point Society
  Apr 02, 2013, General Photos5
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