Edward Tritt and Walter Erikson

Ed Tritt leaving for Dutch New Guinea
(Courtesy of Beulah Stapf Kruhmin)

The gravestone of Walter Erikson
(courtesy of TEAM)

The gravestone of Edward Tritt
(courtesy of TEAM)

The Story of Walter Erikson
and Edward Tritt


In 1952, two young missionaries trekked into the uncharted interior of the Bird's Head area of Dutch New Guinea, a remote Indonesian island. Walter Erikson and Edward Tritt were the first two missionaries sent there by The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM). The two men died tragically in an inhospitable jungle.

The story of these two young men was overshadowed four years later by the martyrdom of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint and four other missionaries to South America. The involvement of a Life magazine photographer brought their story to a deserved national attention.

But, now, almost sixty years later, the story of these two earlier missionaries has come to light once again, in a surprising coda that redeems the story with new purpose. I have told the story here in Connection, a publication of Columbia International University, the college both men attended.

Unlike many such stories of early missionary endeavors, this one could be brought to life through letters, diaries, newsletters, photos and trial documents. I was thrilled to be able to track down colleagues, friends and family members having first-hand memories of the two men.

Read the story and reignite your admiration for pioneering missionaries like Walter Erikson and Edward Tritt, whose determination and dedication is so rarely matched today.