Biography of Ernest Gilbert Dixon

Capt., Company Commander CCC Co. 722, Hovland, Minnesota

Capt., Unknown USAAF Service, World War Two, Operations Officer, Flight A, 526th Pursuit Squadron, Camp Dodge, Iowa, Seventh Corps Area, Charles Lindbergh Associate, 1920's & Aerogunnery Instructor, Selfridge Field, Mount Clemons, Mich., World War One, USAAC / USAAF

     My Great Grandfather was Dick Dixon, whose full name was Ernest Gilbert Dixon, reported at other times as Gilbert Ernest or just G. E. Dixon or E.G. Dixon. In 1909 he married Daisy Agnes Polson, who gave him a daughter Arlene. The couple was divorced in 1912.

    Dixon enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1917. His first training was at the marine school of field of fire at Kelly Field Texas. From there he was sent to Utica, New York for further training. He completed his training at Wilbur Wright Field at Fairfield, Ohio.

     His first assignment was as an aerogunnery instructor at Selfridge Field, Mount Clemens, Michigan. There he trained Aviators in the use of their machine guns. The young aviator also became rated as an instructor in aerial gunnery, ring sights, meteorology, and navigation.

     He was termed the best instructor at Selfridge Field during his time there. The Armament officer, and presumably his commanding officer, Lt. George H. Carringer wrote a recommendation which read in part, "Dixon knows machine guns thoroughly and always gets results instead of reason for trouble". This was no small compliment in a time when stoppages were frequent, especially in temperamental aircraft mounts which would be subject to extremes of temperatures and stresses and required special feeds and linkages.

     After the war, Dixon's service continued as a Reserve Officer. He became Operations Officer of Flight A of the 526th Pursuit Squadron with which he served at Camp Dodge, Des Moines, Iowa.

     Captain Dixon's service led to his close association with the famous Charles A. Lindbergh. He earned a Fraternal Aeronautic International license under Lindbergh's instruction at Lambert Field, St. Louis in 1926. The men became close friends.

     Dixon was with Lindbergh when he opened the first airmail line from Chicago to St. Louis and welcomed him on his return and on his trip to Omaha thereafter. Indeed, one of the first letters carried by Lindbergh was from Lindy to Dixon. Addressed to G.E. Dixon, Anglum, Mo. And bearing a post mark of "First Flight Inaugurating Contract Airmail; Chicago - St. Louis Route", it read in part;

     "I will be unable to see you before the flight as Smith was killed, you know, and I couldn't get away now…I am mailing this at Chicago, Dick. I will carry it on the first airmail trip to St. Louis. I want you to have the first one."

     Smith was another flyer and a close friend of Lindbergh. This letter became one of Dixon's most cherished possessions.

     Dixon would be close to Lindy's historic career for some time. He would throw a party for him in 1928 upon his return to Omaha from his famous flight to Paris in the Spirit of St. Louis. Dixon would invite his young daughter, Arlene, to this dinner but she couldn't attend due to a sprained ankle. At the Dinner Dixon learned first hand of Lindbergh's intention to convert his post-transatlantic flight fame into a springboard for advocating the aviation industry.

     Dixon was involved with many of early aviation's activities in the between wars period. In 1929 he flew the newly designed Kenner Eagle for the Universal Airways in the Nebraska air tour. He partook in the 1930 Chicago Air Races with his 526th Pursuit Squadron. He was also the official timer and judge in the international air races at Kansas City and Omaha. He also was a member of the Q. B. Pilots Honorary Society of Aviation in New York City. As of 1933 he had logged 900 hours as a pilot and 800 hours as an observer, an unusual combination at the time where most men were either pilots or observers but not both. At that time he was the oldest active flyer in the Seventh Corps area.

     Mr. Dixon held civilian employment at this time when not serving with the Reserves. He was a conductor on the branch freight of the Burlington Railway, which laid over in Hamburg, Minnesota. He also filled his time in a job which suited his status as an enthusiastic baseball fan. He was a Scout for the St. Joe baseball club of the Western League with powers to secure and sign skilled players for the 1934-1935 baseball season.

     Upon the creation of the CCCs Mr. Dixon was one of the many Reserve military officers who were brought to active duty to oversee a Company of CCC men. In 1934 or thereabouts, Captain Dixon was made the commander of the CCC Camp of Hovland, Minnesota, which was the home at the time of Company 722.

     Mr. Dixon was a modest man by all accounts, but his accomplishments as a flier led to his being the subject of numerous articles. The source for much of this information, he was the focus of articles in the Crest News Advertiser of January 1933, the Des Moines Register Tribune of August 1930, the Grand Marais, Minnesota, News Herald and the Reorter, a paper from an unknown location near the city of Hamburg, Minnesota.

     Mr. Dixon's adventures went on to include service in the Army Air Corps during World War Two. After the war he would live with his Sister Laura. Dick Dixon passed away in 1961, survived by his daughter, Arlene Daisy Usher.

----- vbfrizzb@qwest.net

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