Called "Oly" by his fellow officers, Norman J Olson was an atypical Army Air Force pilot. Raised on in Dallas, Wisconsin, he joined the service years before the War broke out, and for a different country at that.
Oly was trained as a pilot by the Royal Air Force in Canada but due to U.S. Army regulations, he was never allowed to be a captain an American aircraft. He never let his disappointment show, however.
Tall, quiet, with a placid personality, he commanded respect and confidence apparently without effort.
And he did it all without knowing how to read. During down time on Angaur island, Jack Berger, the gregarious Jewish kid from Brooklyn, used to sit down with Oly and teach him to read by going through a dictionary with him.
O.C. remembered Oly as a sun worshiper. "He was always in great shape," remembers Berger. "Really proud of his Nordic physique." He was also a tremendously competent and reliable co-pilot. O.C. always mentioned his name with a smile on his face and an occasional tear in his eye. He loved the man as a brother.
After the War, Oly returned to Wisconsin, went to college, and eventually graduated from law school, practicing in Chicago for many years. He never married but remained a bachelor. He died in January 1982.