Sergeant Roy G. Eriksson
Nearly 65 years after it was organized in 1947, the Sergeant Roy G. Eriksson American Legion Post 1119 continues to meet on a monthly basis.
Six to eight of the post's 40 members gather once a month at Gladstone Lounge and Liquors, 5734 N. Milwaukee Ave. Many of the post's members have
retired and now live out of state, said post member Gregory Belter, who served in the Philippines during the Vietnam War.
The post met at the time of its organization at the Edgebrook Clubhouse, 6100 N. Central Ave., but later moved to Heck's Hall, 5135 N. Milwaukee Ave. Heck's owner, Tom Heck, was a member, said post member and World War II veteran Franklin Wellhausen.
The post met at the catering hall, which eventually was demolished to make room for the new 16th (Jefferson Park) District police station, until about 2000.
The post is named after Eriksson, who died while on a flying mission over Berlin near the end of World War II. Eriksson's plane is believed to have collided with another U.S. bomber on April 10, 1945, but he was not declared dead by the War Department until a year later, said Ed Heiser, who once lived next to Eriksson's parents and who possesses documents and letters regarding Eriksson's death.
In a letter to Eriksson's parents after they were notified that their son was missing, another soldier encourages them to keep praying. "Now that Germany has collapsed, and we have taken over, we should receive some different word, so we must be patient," he wrote.
Eriksson grew up in the 5500 block of West Farragut Avenue and graduated from Hitch School, and a 1946 memorial service program states that Eriksson went to Lane Tech High School, but several post members recalled that he attended Taft High School. Wellhausen said that he and Eriksson played on opposing teams in a softball league prior to serving in the military.
The post, which still possesses two U.S. flags that Eriksson's parents donated, used to hold formal ceremonies each Memorial Day at Eriksson's gravesite at Acacia Park Cemetery, 7800 W. Irving Park Road, Norridge. Belter said that he still makes an occasional visit and gives a salute in honor of the fallen hero.