Thursday, August 12, 2010

Feedback: Help remember an A-10 pilot lost in Desert Storm

Updated August 13, 2010

Patrick in Saudi with what his sister called "that goofy mustache." (Photo courtesy of Kristin Olson) Source

Note: Maybe, Patrick is wearing a base cap from the 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) "Falcons", 354th Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW), Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina, also deployed for Operation Desert Storm to King Fahd International Airport (KFIA), Saudi Arabia.

Today, in an e-mail to me Warthog News visitor Donny Chan forced my attention to the following news:

A petition was started to encourage the City Council members in Washington, North Carolina, to name a new bridge on River Road after Captain Patrick Olson who was lost while attempting to land his heavily damaged aircraft at his base in Saudi Arabia.

Patrick was a 25 year old 1st Lieutenant when he flew an A-10 in Desert Storm. From the Air Force Academy's Heritage War Memorial site:

"Captain Patrick B. Olson died on 27 February 1991 while on a combat mission in Saudi Arabia supporting Operation Desert Storm. Olsen was piloting an OA-10 aircraft and was directing other warplanes toward Iraqi tanks. He had a call from Army troopers who believed Iraqi tanks were about to pull an end run on their position. Olson threw his Warthog's 57-foot-6-inch wing almost vertical to the ground as he banked sharply to aim at the Iraqi armor. Gunfire erupted around him and hit his aircraft. The damage was serious and Olson tried to land the aircraft. He was inches from putting down on a sand airfield when his OA-10 flipped over. He did not have time to eject."

What this does not say is that Patrick flew his Warthog on one engine and no hydraulics to a friendly base and that his landing gear collapsed and the A-10 cartwheeled.

The point of this post is not only to highlight a home town hero, but also bring a petition to your attention. This petition was started to encourage the City Council members in Washington, North Carolina to name a new bridge on River Road after Patrick. In the last few days, due mainly to Facebook, the number of signatures on this petition has grown from 30 to 158. Please consider visiting the petition and adding your name. It doesn't matter if you have no ties to Patrick, Washington, North Carolina, the Air Force, the NCDOT, or really, even me. (I know it's hard to believe I said that, since I espouse that it is really all about me!) Please add your signature to honor a fallen hero and to help us all remember Patrick.

I'd just like to add a commentary by one of Patrick's former squadron members from the Air Force Print News Today:

Selfless Service

Commentary by Lt. Col. Dean Lee
87th Flying Training Squadron commander

2/10/2009 - LAUGHLIN AFB, Texas -- Have you ever sat down and really thought about why you joined the military? Perhaps it was to get education benefits or to see the world. Or maybe it was to please a family member or to get away from a situation. Many join the military to gain a skill or just obtain a steady job.

Whenever I contemplate why I joined the Air Force, I think about a friend I made during my first assignment. His name was Lt. Patrick Olson, but we all called him "Oly". We both were new A-10 Pilots at Davis Monthan AFB and deployed to fight in OPERATION DESERT STORM. On one particular mission during the second day of the ground war Oly, a forward air controller, was calling in fighters to attack the hasty Iraqi evacuation out of Kuwait. I still remember that day.

The weather was cold and there was an overcast deck about 3000 feet above the ground. Oly had to fly in and out of the clouds to spot the enemy movement then pass the information to the fighters. One of the times when Oly dove below the clouds, enemy artillery lit him up and shredded his A-10. Oly was able to maneuver the jet back into the clouds and egress towards friendly lines. He had so much battle damage to his jet that he had to fly on one engine and the third backup flight control system.

He successfully maneuvered the crippled jet back to a friendly base, but he was unable to adequately control the jet during the landing and was killed in the crash. "Oly" will always be remembered for giving his life preventing hundreds of Iraqis from escaping Kuwait.

But the thing I will always remember about Oly was how much he loved serving his country. When they recovered his personal effects, they found an American flag in his G-suit pocket. He flew every single mission with that flag in his pocket to remind himself of who he was serving. To say the least, Oly personified our slogan of "Service before Self".

Ever since Oly's crash, I have always carried a flag in my G-suit pocket when I fly partly in respect for my long lost friend, but also to remind me of why I continue to serve in the military. Some days I forget and view my service as work, or just a job.

But I try to remember that we are "serving" in the military, not just "working" in the military. Oly served his country, and I want to be like him. Though you and I might not be flying combat missions everyday or heralded as heroes, I do think we can re-orient our perspective to remember why we are serving our country.

Because in reality, America is relying on us. We are public servants and have the privilege to serve. The next time we contemplate why we joined the military; let's remember heroes like Oly who gave their all so we could have so much. Whatever your reason for joining the military, Let us all unite as we provide "Service before Self".

(Patrick was posthumously promoted to the rank of Captain.)

See also

Related background info:

- From the book "Gulf Air War Debrief - Described by the pilots that fought", World Airpower Journal, Aerospace Publishing London, Airtime Publishing USA, page 227: 27 February 1991, Combat Loss # 33: OA-10A 77-0197, 23rd TASS/602nd TAW, callsign NAIL 51. First Lieutenant Patrick B. Olson, 26, of Washington, NC, killed. Bad weather. Hit attempted to recover at FOL., aircraft flipped over, killing pilot. The aircraft was buried at the FOL.

- From the World Air Power Journal Special "A-10 Thunderbolt II", written by Rick Stephens, page 37: 27 February - 23rd TASS OA-10A hit by IR SAM. Crashed attempting to recover at King Khalid Military City. 1Lt Patrick B. Olson killed.

According to this source, the 23rd TASS / 602nd TACW deployed six aircraft to King Fahd January 6, 1991.

- From the A-10 Gulf War Battle Damage site, edited by Patrick McGee, SMSgt, USAF (Ret): OA-10A 77-0197, 23rd TASS/602nd TACW. Aircraft had been hit by small arms and was attempting a landing at KKMC FOL [= Forward Operating Location (FOL) 1, King Khalid Military City (KKMC)] while in Manual Reversion after loosing all its hydraulics and in extreme weather conditions. On landing the aircraft cat wheeled wingtip over wingtip flipped over on to its back killing the pilot Lt Patrick Olson. There was nothing left of the aircraft. The remains of the aircraft were buried at the FOL.

According to this source, 15 OA-10As from the 23rd Tactical Air Support Squadron (TASS) "Nail Fac", 602nd Tactical Air Control Wing (TACW), Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona (Tailcode NF) were deployed to King Fahd International Airport (KFIA), Saudi Arabia.

Update: On August 12, I signed for this petition with signature number 1193.

Dear Warthog News contributors and visitors. Please also support this petition.

The Petition
To: Washington (NC) City Council, Beaufort County Commissioners, North Carolina Department of Transportation

To the Washington (NC) City Council, the Beaufort County Commissioners, and the North Carolina Department of Transportation, as well as concerned citizens and friends:

This petition is signed by those in support of naming the recently rebuilt bridge on River Road (N.C. 32) in Washington over Runyon Creek in honor of Captain Patrick Brian Olson.

Patrick Olson perished over the skies of Iraq 27 Feb 1991. Patrick was a native Washingtonian, known to all of us in Beaufort County and Washington, by our generation and by our parents' generation. He was a man who lived his dream of service to his country, and unfortunately died during the execution of that service.

We feel it a fitting tribute to name this bridge in memory of Patrick Olson and his service and his ultimate sacrifice during the first Gulf War. A structure like this bridge is built once in a lifetime in our community, and we expect it to stand for 30-50 years. While WE all remember Patrick, , we want our children and grandchildren to know who he was, why he made the ultimate sacrifice, and why he did what he did. We wish it to be known that he was a genuine American patriot who died defending the freedom that we so often take for granted, and we want it to be known for years to come. We feel this is a fitting tribute to a fallen hometown comrade and friend.


The Undersigned



  1. Captain Patrick Olson died on the airstrip of King Kalid Military City. I amongst several othe DMAFB Firefighters were there that day. Captain Olson did all he could and is a true hero. We believe his wing caught the side of a parked vehicle near the runway and there was nothing that he could do.

  2. My husband was among many ammo airmen there the day of this crash. He believes firmly in his heart that he is alive today thanks to the skill of Captain Olson. Without this unsung hero I wouldn't have the love of my life. I can't thank him enough and only wish I could.

    1. Patrick was my husband. Thank you for posting this. It is wonderful to know that people still remember him.

  3. I was there as an A-10 Crew Chief and witnessed this. I am still saddened by what I saw that day. He tried to bring that plane back when he could have just punched out sooner. This guy is a hero.

  4. I was an Army flight medic on a dustoff helicopter sent to the crash. I am so sorry there was nothing we could do. I'm sitting far from home just like we all were that day. I never knew the Lt's name and decided it was time to put a name and face with it so I did a search and found what I was missing. To his family, friends and squadron members I am sorry for your loss and hope that knowing he is waiting for us in a far better place will bring you some comfort.

    1. Thanks Craig. Patrick was my husband. His parents and sister and my family all live in our hometown. I do know that I will see him again one day. Thank you.

  5. I was there with Oly. Deeply scarred by this tragic event. We lost an awesome person that day. I remember that day, every day, sometimes several times a day.