Black Hawk County

Capt. Roy W. Olsen

 

 

WILL GET WINGS

Cedar Falls—Aviation Cadet Roy W. Olsen (pictured), son of Niels C. Olsen of Waterloo road, Cedar Falls, Ia., will be graduated soon from the Air Corps Advanced Flying School at Stockton, Cal.

Upon graduation, he will be commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Corps reserve, army of the United States, and will be given the coveted silver wings, symbolic of the aeronautical rating of pilot.

Before entering the final and advanced course at Stockton field 10 weeks ago, Aviation Cadet Olsen completed 20 weeks of primary and basic training. In the advanced course he was taught to fly the large combat airplanes of the Army Air Corps and acquainted himself with meteorology, radio code, navigation, engineering, signal communication, and other professional and military subjects.

Cadet Olsen graduated from Iowa State Teachers College, where he was an active participant in track meets.  He belonged to Blue Key as well as Alpha Chi Epsilon.  He received previous army flight training at King City and Moffett field, Cal.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, February 20, 1942 (photo included)

PROTECTS A “CRIPPLED” IOWA PILOT
May Have Downed Three Zeros Himself

(By the Record War Desk)

A Cedar Falls flier piloting a B-24 Liberator bomber in New Guinea today broke into the news when he aided in shooting down 12 Jap Zeros out of 25 enemy aircraft that attacked in that area.

Lieut. Roy Olson (sic Olsen), one of the American pilots who met the Nipponese in a “hot” air battle, broke formation to protect another Iowa flier who had one engine crippled by Jap shells.  The second Iowa flier, Lieut. Frank Dowie, Jr, whose home is in Des Moines, was credited with shooting down four of the enemy ships.

Olsen is the son of Nels Olsen, rural route, and a brother of Mrs. Delmar Peterson, 1802 Franklin street.  He received training in four-motor bombers at Barksdale Field, Fla., and also in South Carolina and Michigan.

Foreign Duty.
Before leaving this county, Olsen flew a Liberator over this city. He was stationed at Oahu island, Hawaii, and in Australia prior to going to New Guinea.

Six more of the enemy airplanes were reported damaged in the battle and all American airships returned. Conflicting reports indicated Olsen may have been responsible for shooting down three of the enemy Zeros to nearly equal Dowie’s record.

The total fall of Tripoli to Allied Forces was expected any moment this afternoon following the fall of the main defenses there.  British artillery men, located on a hill near the city, are blasting an important sea port, while Allied troops have already taken possession of an airport about 10 miles from the city.

Bombers, proceeding from the captured airport, are bombing the heels of fleeing Axis forces.  One Allied ground column is said to have skirted Tripoli and on its way after Rommel and his men, now enroute to Tunisia.

Source: Cedar Falls Daily Record, Friday, January 22, 1943 (photo included)

SELZER TELLS OF DEATH OF CAPT. OLSON

James Selzer, Waterloo, now stationed at New Guinea, has written to Mrs. Irene Eaton, 23rd and College streets, about the death of Capt. Roy Olsen, of this city.

Excerpts from his letter read:
“I just found out that it’s O.K. to tell you what happened to Roy. He was on his last mission before he was to return to the States. He was flying toward the target, when one wheels-down Jap plane jumped the formation. On the first pass it shot at another ship in the formation, but missed. He came in for a second attack, and this time, shot at Roy’s plane. His gunners shot back and hit the Jap when he was just above and bedside the bomber and when he started to fall, he dived right through Roy’s left wing, tearing it off just outside the outboard engine.

It fell into the water far from shore, and although some of the other fellows went down and looked over the wreckage, no sign of life was ever seen.

They went on with their mission and bombed the target and returned to their base, where they found the letter for Ole, telling them that he was to go to head-quarters and get his orders for going home. Pretty rough deal, isn’t it? And he wanted to go home pretty badly, too.”

Capt. Olsen was the son of Niels Olsen, 1112 West 22nd street.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, sometime after June 23, 1943--the date of death of Capt. Roy W. Olsen.

[On June 23, 1943, Capt. Olsen was piloting B-24 “Pelly-Can” and Staff Sgt. Harold Muscato, gunner, from Iowa was included in the crew of 9 men.]

“. . . we were momentarily stunned to watch the Nate fly directly into the wing of Roy's plane just outboard of the number four engine. Predictably the wing came off as did one from the Nate with both going down together in tight spirals. We didn't actually see the splash because we were now too busy preparing for our bomb run . . .

“This was the first instance of an intentional ramming the group had seen and Olsen was ill prepared to defend against such tactics especially since the plane approached him from the rear.”

Source: Alcorn, John S. “The Jolly Rogers: History of the 90th Bomb Group During World War II.” p. 44.

POSTHUMOUS AWARD TO CAPT. OLSEN

The late Capt. Roy Olsen, son of Neils Olsen, 1112 West 22nd street, has been awarded the posthumous citation of the legion of merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service, according to a news release quoting a War Department announcement.

Capt. Olsen’s father and sister, Mrs. Delmar Peterson, also of the above address, have not been informed of the award. It was revealed today, Capt. Olsen was killed June 23 when a Japanese pilot “suicided” his plane into that piloted by Olsen.

In Citation.
The citation accompanying this award was as follows:

“For exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services in Australia from Mar. 16 to June 23, 1943.  On Mar. 16, 1943, Captain Olsen took command of a heavy bombardment squadron, and speedily developed it into one of the most efficient organizations in northwestern Australia.

“He led his squadron in major attacks on the enemy at Ambon, Kendari, Manokwari, Babo, Keopang and Macassar, and he conducted difficult reconnaissance missions which secured much valuable information of enemy activities.  In operations extending over 100,000 square miles of enemy-occupied island territory, the squadron during this period, under his expert leadership, destroyed 40,000 tons of shipping, inflicted serious damage on installations at more than 15 enemy bases, and shot down a total of 78 enemy aircraft.

“Captain Olsen’s professional capacity and his brilliant qualities as leader were responsible in large part for the outstanding accomplishments of his squadron.”

78 Aircraft.
In operations extending over 100,000 square miles of enemy-occupied island territory, the squadron during this period, under his expert leadership, destroyed 40,000 tons of shipping, inflicted serious damage on installations at more than 15 enemy bases, and shot down a total of 78 enemy aircraft.

“Captain Olsen’s professional capacity and his brilliant qualities as leader were responsible in large part for the outstanding accomplishments of his squadron.”

Source: Cedar Falls Daily Record, sometime after June 23, 1943-the date of death for Capt. Roy W. Olsen.

Cedar Falls Pilot Gets High Award Posthumously
LEGION OF MERIT WILL GO TO HIS FATHER SUNDAY
Capt. Roy W. Olsen Shot Down Leading Bomber Group in S. W. Pacific

Cedar Falls—The Legiion of Merit, which has been awarded posthumously to Captain Roy W. Olsen, air force, United States Army, of Cedar Falls, Ia., by General Douglas MacArthur, will be presented to his father, Niels C. Olsen, 1105 West 22nd street, Cedar Falls, Sunday afternoon at 4 o’clock at the review ceremonies of the 80th College Training detachment, Iowa State Teachers College, Cedar Falls, Ia.  The commanding officer of the detachment, Maj. Julian T. Leonard, will make the presentation.

The public is invited to attend the ceremonies which will be held on the drill field south of the men’s gymnasium of Iowa State Teachers College.

Captain Olsen was shot down while leading a heavy bombardment squadron over Macassar strait in the southwest Pacific, June 23, 1943.

The Legion of Merit is presented by direction of the president of the United States under provisions of an act of Congress and is one of the highest honors given by the Army.

Will Read Citation.
The following citation, which will be read at the ceremony by First Lt. John B. Morris, adjutant of the detachment, accompanies the medal:

“For exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services in Australia from Mar. 16 to June 23, 1943.  On Mar. 16, 1943, Captain Olsen took command of a heavy bombardment squadron, and speedily developed it into one of the most efficient organizations in northwestern Australia.

“He led his squadron in major attacks on the enemy at Ambon, Kendari, Manokwari, Babo, Keopang and Macassar, and he conducted difficult reconnaissance missions which secured much valuable information of enemy activities.  In operations extending over 100,000 square miles of enemy-occupied island territory, the squadron during this period, under his expert leadership, destroyed 40,000 tons of shipping, inflicted serious damage on installations at more than 15 enemy bases, and shot down a total of 78 enemy aircraft.

“Captain Olsen’s professional capacity and his brilliant qualities as leader were responsible in large part for the outstanding accomplishments of his squadron.”

Had Other Medals.
Captain Olsen had previously been decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross while two other medals, the Silver Star and the Purple Heart had been awarded to him posthumously.

While a student at Iowa State Teachers College, Captain Olsen served as business manager of the college annual, “Old Gold,” was president of the Men’s Union and a member of the track team. He was a member of the Class of ’39.

On July 15, 1941, he began his aviation cadet training leading to a commission as a flying officer in the Army Air Forces.

Source:  Waterloo Sunday Courier, Sunday, February 27, 1944 (photo included)

Olsen to Receive Award for Son

Cedar Falls—N. C. Olsen, 1105 West 22nd street, father of the late Capt. Roy W. Olsen, killed in action in the early part of 1943, is among those who will journey to Washington, D.C., to receive the posthumous decoration conferred on his son by the King of England through Lord Halifax, the British Ambassador, who will confer the decorations on Sept. 26.

Captain Olson also was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Oak Leaf Cluster.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, August 22, 1944 

Capt. Roy Olsen on Mythical
All-American Bombing Team

Late Cedar Falls Pilot Is
Lauded in Magazine Article.

Cedar Falls – Capt. Roy Olsen of Cedar Falls, who died June 23, 1943, while leading a flight of B-24 Liberators against Macassar in the Celebes, has been selected posthumously as pilot of a mythical All-American bomber team by Lt. Col. Harry J. Bullis, of the famed Jolly Rogers unit of Liberators, according to the January issue of Air World magazine.

According to the magazine article, written by Master Sgt. Jules Archer, the Cedar Falls youth’s name heads the list of distinguished airmen, selected from the bomber crews comprising the Jolly Rogers crews past and present, for positions on the first All-American bomber team ever named.

“These candidates, two of whom have died together, have earned this honor by outstanding feats of courage and skill, which have helped make the Jolly Rogers record on of the best in the world,” the article stated.

Bag 542 Zeros.

The Liberators, bearing the pirate insignia of skull and crossed bones on the twintail, have knocked 344 Zeros out of the air, are credited with 112 more probables and have damaged another 86, for a total of 542 Zeros, not including enemy planes bombed on the ground.

The article states that the last mission of Capt. Olsen was perhaps the longest bombing mission ever undertaken and continues:

“An attacking Zero, frustrated in its attack against his bomber, rammed his right wing in a suicide dive, and both planes plunged into the sea.

“An Oak Leaf Cluster was added to his Distinguished Flying Cross for 200 combat hours, when he took his bomber on photo reconnaissance. While making their run, six Zeros drew up alongside, but didn’t attack until the run was completed.”

Loses No. 2 Engine.

“Then they attacked for 40 minutes, shooting out Olsen’s number two engine, wounding a crew member and riddling the B-24 with hole. Preparations were made for a crash landing, but Olsen, with superb skill, nursed the crippled bomber approximately 500 miles safely back to base.

“He was awarded a Silver Star for heroism in a five-ship mission searching for a Jap convoy approaching Wewak on Jan. 20, 1943. During the search, they were pounced on by 25 Zeros, 12 of which were shot down, and six more listed as probable. But the wing man of the first element had an engine shot out and set on fire, forcing him to drop behind the formation, a ‘sitting duck,’ for the Zekes.

“Aware of his grave danger, Captain Olsen pulled out of the element and dropped back to protect the crippled bomber, undoubtedly saving it from being shot down, at a greater risk to himself. The Zekes tore savagely at the two lone bombers, but lost three of their planes to Olsen’s crew for their trouble.

Commanding Officer.

“Captain Olsen was commanding officer of his unit when it was based by itself in the northwestern area of Australia in the early days of the war.

“He led the unit on 10 major strikes, and individually conducted five important reconnaissance missions sorely needed by the Allied command at that time. For his work in paving the way for a new Allied offensive, Captain Olsen was awarded the Legion of Merit.

“Under the guidance the unit discovered the existence of six enemy air strips in Jap territory north of Australia, and revealed hitherto unknown operations at two major enemy bases. They also accounted for at least 40,000 tons of shipping, 78 Zeros shot down, buildings and installations destroyed at more than 15 enemy bases.

“A final honor was paid to Captain Olsen when he was decorated posthumously with the Distinguished Flying Cross by the Royal Australian air force, a distinction that is rarely awarded outside the RAAF.”

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, Waterloo, Iowa, Sunday, December 10, 1944, Page 10