by Senior Airman Xavier Navarro
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
6/26/2015 - FORT SNELLING NATIONAL CEMETERY, Minn.. -- Maj.
Robert "Bob" Olson, a native of St. Paul, Minn., perished along with
nine other Airmen when his aircraft was shot down on Feb. 5, 1969, in
the skies over Vietnam.
Forty-six years later, on June 22, 2015, his wife and their five
children finally received closure, as DNA testing led to Olson's remains
being identified and returned for burial.
On a cloudy Monday afternoon military personnel, friends and family
gathered around a gazebo here as a hearse escorted the remains of Major
Olson for one final salute.
Mary Kay Olson, widower, stated that their family has gone through all
kinds of emotional struggles ever since her husband went missing in
action. "We've gone through funerals, missing in action and honoring him
every year through this point."
Sent to perform the funeral ceremony was a team of 18 Airmen from the
319th Air Base Wing Honor Guard at Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D.
Staff Sgt. Alexandra Crawley, 319th Force Support Squadron base honor
guard program manager, was the NCO-in-charge of the honor guard detail
during the funeral and acknowledges the reason why their job is
"Words can't explain the pride and honor felt to be a part of the
homecoming of Major Olson," said Crawley. "Forty six years later the
Honor Guard team was able to be a part of history that deeply enriched
who we are today as American Airmen and as a country. It was definitely a
once in a lifetime opportunity."
Crawley expressed how her team's missions have impacted the deceased family member's lives.
"You could see the pride Major Olson's family felt. It was a privilege
to be a part of it," said Crawley. "It was such an unforgettable moment
being able to finally provide closure to the family and pay tribute to
the ultimate sacrifice paid by Major Olson."
Olson was a graduate from West Point Military Academy in 1958 and served
in the U.S. Air Force as a navigation instructor at the U.S. Air Force
In light of new technology unavailable in the past, a DNA testing was
done for positive identification making it possible to finally bring
Olson's remains back home.
Olson was deployed to the city of Pleiku in central Vietnam and for
months, his children communicated with him through care packages,
letters and audiotapes.
"Olson was a fantastic father and a great husband, I didn't have him
long enough," said Mary Kay Olson. "What we had of him was wonderful
and fabulous memory."
After the ceremony Mary Kay Olson thanked everyone who came to the
funeral, she spoke about offering her time as a social worker where she
assisted others who loved ones were missing or killed in action.
"My job as a widow is to make sure his memory is honored and so therefor
that's what I try to do," said Olson. "I work with 100 survivors in
Albuquerque, New Mexico, and try to keep them with their benefits and
what they need, that's how I pay back."