John Paul Eldric Erlandson was born on September 21, 1918 the second of six children born to Ed and Emma (Holden) Erlandson on the Holden farm near Rapidan, MN. As the oldest boy growing up during the depression, John worked long hours on the family farm while attending rural schools. After high school, John took a job with the Social Security Administration in Baltimore, MD in July 1941. In April of 1942, he was drafted and served with the 61st Troop Carrier Squadron of the 314th TSG of the Army Air Corps as a crew chief on a C-47. From 1942 until his discharge in 1945 he served in North Africa, Sicily, England, France, and Germany. He flew on many missions during the war including two missions on D-Day. While in the service, he received the Good Conduct Medal, Air Medal with 2 oak leaf clusters and the Distinguished Unit Citation. John loved flying and appropriately the last flight he would take was in May of 2009 when he, his son Darrell, his brother Edward and son David and his brother Gerald and son Tom were privileged to fly with Honor Flight of South Dakota to Washington, DC to see the their World War II Memorial. After this, his Honor Flight hat was removed only reluctantly at bedtime.
In 1942, prior to being sent overseas he would meet his future bride, Alvina Olson, in Santa Monica, CA. After the War, on October 14, 1945 they were married in Minot, ND. They made their home in Baltimore where John continued what would be a 43 year career with Social Security. In 1954, they moved to Huron, SD and then to Mitchell, SD where he retired in 1985. In 2012, they celebrated 67 years of marriage. To them were born three children: Darrell Erlandson of Sioux Falls, SD, Diane (Jim) Arth of Lakeland, FL, and Sheree (Bruce) Vande Garde of Aurora, CO.
John was a member of the VFW, American Legion, and Resurrection Lutheran Church.
As a member of the “Greatest Generation”, John did what so many did then. He, along with millions of others, returned to civilian life without missing a beat. John was a wonderful father and husband loved by his family and all who knew him. He loved his yard and garden and his dog Beagle. His wit and humor will be long remembered by friends and family.
In addition to his beloved wife and children, he is survived by four grandchildren, Jeffrey(Randi) Erlandson, Prior Lake, MN, Jerold Erlandson, Sioux City, IA, Mathew(Jennifer) Cornelisen, Tampa, FL, Scott Cornelisen (Wendy) Nashville, TN, 4 great granddaughters Marin Erlandson, Elise Erlandson, Calista Erlandson, Reagan Erlandson, and 1 great grandson Tor Cornelisen. Also, brothers Edward Erlandson of Inver Grove Heights, MN, Gerald (Selma) Erlandson of Milaca, MN, sister Shirley Knatterud of St. Paul, MN. Along with many nieces and nephews. In addition to his parents Edward and Emma, John was preceded in death by sister, Mildred and brother, Harold, sister in law Gretchen and brother-in-law, Alden.
The family would like to thank John’s caregivers: Jeanette Baas, Rhonda King, Charmaine Harder, Pat Wurster and Pam Catalano for their loving care and also the staff at Golden Living in Salem for their kind and considerate help in John’s last days.
Memorials may be directed to Mitchell SD VFW or Resurrection Lutheran Church in Mitchell.