2LT Richard O. Olson
In memory of our fallen brother
few, we happy few, we band of brothers; for he to-day that sheds
his blood with me shall be my brother"
35th Infantry Regiment
"Not For Fame or Reward
Not For Place or For Rank
But In Simple Obedience To
Duty as They Understood It"
The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, 2LT Richard O. Olson, O-1925739, who died in the service of his country on May 9th, 1953 in North Korea. The cause of death was listed as KIA. At the time of his death Richard was 21 years of age. He was from Madison, Wisconsin. Richard's Military Occupation Specialty was 1542.
The decorations earned by 2LT Richard O. Olson include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Korea Service Medal, and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.
Second Lieutenant Olson was a member of Fox Company of the 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. He was Killed in Action while fighting the enemy in North Korea on May 9, 1953. Second Lieutenant Olson was awarded the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantrymans Badge, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.
A childhhood friend of mine. We grew up together and lived not far apart. We both dated the same girl for awhile. I returned from Korea in May, l952, and saw him in our home town of Madison, Wisconsin, just before he left for Korea. I remember discussing that he would probably be a platoon leader over there, listening to the Platoon Sergeant, the old pros, and keeping his ass down. I never found out the exact circumstances surrounding his death. A tragic loss. His family was devastated. I was a pallbearer at his funeral. (William Rosensteel)
Richard is buried in Cottage Grove Cemetery in Cottage Grove, WI (near Madison, WI)
The boyish face under the wavy red
hair looks out from the yearbook
photo through narrowed eyes, a
hint of mischief in the smile.
The year was 1949. Richard Olson was
graduating from Madison East High
School and heading to the University of
Wisconsin with a world of possibilities
looking back at him.
But life has a mind of its own. We will
never know what might have happened
to Olson had he lived a long life. We
know what did happen four years after
he graduated from high school: 2nd Lt.
Richard Olson was killed in action in the
Olson died 60 years ago this month.
The casualty list carrying his name was
released on Memorial Day 1953.
It is fitting that this Memorial Day
weekend we remember Olson as a representative
of the more than 1 million
American soldiers killed in war since the
country’s founding. They died serving
the rest of us.
Olson was the son of Olaf and Eleanor
Olson, who lived on North Seventh
Street. Friends called him Dick.
"He was fun-loving and exuberant,"
recalled Bill Rosensteel Jr. Rosensteel
was two years older than Olson but
knew him well because they attended
the same church.
"What I remember most was our
friendly competition" in dating the
same girl, Rosensteel said.
Olson excelled at music in high school
and played in the band. At UW he
entered the Reserve Officers Training
Corps and was a member of the Pershing
In early 1951 he entered the Army.
In the summer of 1952 he met up with
Rosensteel again when both were back
in Madison. Rosensteel had recently
been discharged from a three-year hitch
in the Army, which included several
months in Korea.
"I remember telling him if he went to
Korea, which was a distinct possibility,
to keep his ass down and listen to, and
learn the art of combat from, the sergeants
and others who had some experience
in dealing with the North Koreans
and Chinese enemy." Rosensteel said.
Olson arrived in Korea in March 1953.
Soon his division replaced Marines
defending the truce talks at Panmunjom.
Details of his death were not
released. He had been at the front 13
Rosensteel was a pall bearer at the
Rosensteel had a chance to pursue his
possibilities. He married, had a short
career as a trucker in Wisconsin, then
moved to California, where he served
more than 27 years in the Los Angeles
County Sheriffs Department, retiring
as a lieutenant. He and his wife, Joan,
raised three children.
With respect to his friend, Rosensteel
has pondered a question many soldiers
face: Why him and not me? He takes
comfort in a passage written by war correspondent
Ernie Pyle-a passage all of
us should consider:
They died and others lived, and nobody
knows why it is so. They died and thereby
the rest of us can go on and on. When
we leave here for the next shore, there is
nothing we can do for the ones beneath
the wooden crosses, except perhaps to
pause and murmur, "Thanks, pal."