- Associated Press - Sunday, June 21, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The remains of a St. Paul airman have been returned to Minnesota, 46 years after his EC-47 aircraft plunged into a Laotian jungle during the Vietnam War.

A Delta Air Lines plane carrying the remains of Maj. Robert Olson arrived at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Saturday. Olson’s widow, Mary Kay, and four of their five children watched an Air Force major carry Olson’s remains from the plane, place the urn inside a hearse and give Olson - who was known as Bob - one more salute.

Olson, then 32, was one of 10 airmen killed in the February 1969 crash. Unable to positively identify all the remains, officials buried them together at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis.

Mary Kay Olson learned in September that DNA samples provided by the Olson family had produced a match good enough to identify her husband’s remains. She gave her children a choice of five cemeteries. Her children chose Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minnesota.

“This is about these people,” Mary Kay Olson told the Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/1TFOqWs ), gesturing to her children. When their father disappeared, none of the children was older than 9. They all wondered where he was.

“They got their answer today,” she said. “I’m loving watching my kids.”

A funeral program for Monday’s service reads “Welcome Home Dad.”

After he graduated from Cretin High School in 1954, Bob Olson went on to the U.S. Military Academy and married Mary Kay four years later. He taught navigation at the U.S. Air Force Academy and completed his master’s degree in engineering at the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1968 before being sent to Vietnam.

In the months Olson was at war, the children sent care packages and exchanged letters and audiotapes. One side of each audiotape reel he returned contained messages for the children, the other for Mary Kay.

Mary Kay Olson, who has lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for the past 10 years, has honored her husband by volunteering as a social worker at services for survivors of deceased military members.


Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com



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