Norman (Ole) E. Olson

Ace Pilot Describes Battle in Downing Two Nazi Planes
J. C. Glassbrenner, 432 Gilbert Avenue, this city, reports that he is in receipt of clippings from the Fargo, ND paper, stating that Captain Norman E. Olson, whose photo, together with an article regarding some of his exploits appeared recently in this paper, has downed his 15th German plane, an ME-109. The AP dispatch further states that this brings his record up to within 11 of the all-time high for American aces, held by Captain Eddie Rickenbacker in World War I and tied in this war by Major Joe Foss and Major Gregory Boyington, both operating in the Pacific area.

George Storrs, photographer for whom Captain Olson worked during his residence here, has a letter describing a bit of action in which Captain Olson shot down two German planes on one mission.

Captain Olson's letter follows:

Toughest Part to Come
"Over here, right now, the Air Force is working like hell to soften Hitler up so that, when the invasion comes, he'll fold like an accordion--but don't think for one minute that this thing is nearly over; the toughest part is yet to come and the brunt of it will be carried by the ground forces. In the Pacific, it'll be damned rugged on all branches, but again the ground forces will carry the load--foot by foot and mile by mile, but we'll be there, softening them up inside, so the ground forces will have it as easy as possible. And if we can blow a city like Bremen or Berlin off the map, think what we'll be able to do to the bamboo huts on Japan--It'll make a nice fire, won't it? But it'll be a long, tough row to hoe, and I don't mean perhaps. I don't think the Allies will compromise this time. It'll be all or nothing and I'd like to see it the latter way--nothing left of Hitler and Hirohito.

"These 'Jerries' are not pushovers, in any sense of the word and, when you get into a scrap, you know it. I have more than sixty missions to my credit and also have four destroyed and a fifth damaged. The Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and the Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster. Am leading the group at present in confirmed destroyed. I never thought it would be that way when we came over, but there it is. I've just been a little luckier than the others and happened to be in the right place at the right time. I got my third and fourth on February 5--two Messerschitt 109s and that's a day's work, especially when you have to fight them from 23,000 feet to the tree tops. Listen and I'll tell you about it.

"We rendezvoused with the bombers and took up our positions to begin escort. I was leading the second flight in the lead squadron. Shortly after, we had taken our position on the bombers, we passed a large stratus cloud which lay slightly off to our right and slightly below us. As the lead flight of fighters (P-47) approached, the ten Messerschmitt 109s slid out from under the cloud and passed under the lead flight.

"The lead  flight didn't see them and, as the 109s headed for the bombers, I  called them in to the leader. He still couldn't see them, so I took my flight of four and went down to engage them. The 109s evidently didn't see us coming, and they went right through the bombers, firing as they went (20 mm. cannon). We followed them right on through, and then saw us and scattered. I picked on  two of them, who were apparently unaware that I was after them. 

"I closed on the wingman and, as I came in range, I gave him a two-second burst and he exploded; half his right wing came off and he headed straight for the ground and crashed from 17,000 feet. Then, I took off after the second man. As I came in range, I gave him a squirt and saw strikes on his fuselage and wings and a small explosion in the roof of his right wing. He immediately flipped over on his back and headed down, and the scrap was on.  My airspeed indicated about 450 mph, when he pulled up into a steep zoomóI pulled up behind him, almost blocking him from the centrifugal force of the pull out. As I closed on him, I squirted him again, seeing strikes on the fuselage and wings.

"This time he rolled to the right and headed straight down again. The people of Paris must have had a ringside seat. This time he dove to 2,000 and pulled out and up into a loop. As I followed him around to the top of the loop, he stalled out to the right, and I turned quickly to the left. We came at each other head on. I held my fire, until it appeared we would collide;  I then fired and there was a terrific explosion in his right wing, and the aircraft started to burn. We passed so close to each other that I'm sure I could have reached out and touched his wing as he passed. 

"As we passed, I whipped into a very steep left turn and followed him down. His aircraft was smoking badly, but he was still full of fight, so I gave him a final squirt, and he crashed in a wooded area, and his ship busted up quite badly. I didn't stick around to see anymore but made a turn, so my wingman could rejoin, and then we headed for home. 

"We don't often meet those kind of odds (10-4, a bit rough), but the bombers will be protected and German fighters will be destroyed; so when the time comes, odds don't count. We just scrap and scrap like hell and hope for the best. If you're  aggressive enough, you can usually get away with itóthe box office shows four Jerries for every American pilot and that's damned good for a theater as tough as this. Don't forget that 'Jerry' has a couple of good planes, too, and the pilots are damned good, too. 

"Well, it's time to crawl inówe've  got a show on for tomorrow and I've got to get that fifth one. 

"Best wishes to all of you, OLE" 

The following is from the Fargo newspaper:  

"Captain Norman E. Olson, of Fargo, has apparently been a busy fighter pilot over Europe the last couple of weeks, and Sunday he downed a German ME-109 for his 15th kill, according to an Associated Press dispatch from a U.S. bomber station in England.

"Captain Olson flew one of the planes in the 'greatest number of American Air Force fighters ever dispatched to escort a heavy bombing mission,' as it was described in press dispatches. He apparently participated in the mass assault against German airplane factories in central Germany.

"Son of Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Olson, 1526 Fourth Avenue North, Captain Olson wrote his parents on February 7 that, at that time, he had downed four German planes and damaged another. The Associated Press dispatch brings his total kill up through Sunday.

"In the same dispatch, Captain Don Beerbower of Hill City, MN and Lieutenant Terence M. Williams of Gettysburg, SD are credited with two German planes each in the Sunday raid.

"Captain Olson, leader of a flight of Thunderbolt fighters, had previously received the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, and three Oak Leaf Clusters.

"Captain Olson's 15 planes downed come within 11 of tying the American record of 26, held by Captain Eddie Rickenbacker in World World War I and by Major Joe Foss of Sioux Falls, SD and Major Gregory Boyington of Okanogan, WA, Marine flyers of World War II, both operating the Pacific area. Major Boyington is missing in action."


Fighter Pilot in England Has Seven Nazi Planes to Credit
Captain Norman E. Olson, formerly of Eau Claire, is shown above being presented with an Air Medal at a base in England in recognition of his performance as a fighter pilot.

The picture was sent from England by Staff Sergeant Victor W. Johnson, writing to Ken Solberg and, also enclosed, was a clipping from the Stars and Stripes, showing the "Flying Ace's Box Score up to Tuesday, March 7." 

In this, Captain Olson, piloting a Thunderbolt, is listed as having shot down six German planes. Sergeant Johnson adds that Captain Olson got one more since that publication, making an accredited bag of seven Germans.

"Believe me, he is doing a great job here," Staff Sergeant Johnson writes. "Just recently, he started flying P51 Mustangs, so I saw him fly one Tuesday for the first time. He used to come around in his Thunderbolt often, and he could really fly that, too."

"We promised each other, when he was here, that we would get together more often from now on, so we can write to you about our big times here. He is the same Ole, but I doubt if you would know him if you met him in a strange place."

Captain Olson, whose home is in Fargo, was employed at Storrs Photo Craft Studio in Eau Claire at the time of his enlistment in the Air Corps


Ace Fighter Pilot Killed Strafing German Airfield
Captain Norman E. Olson (right) is shown above being decorated for meritorious service at an air base in England on Thanksgiving Day.

U.S. MUSTANG FIGHTER BASE in Britain, April 8  (Delayed by censor)
Captain Norman E. Olson, 29-year-old Flight Commander from Orlando, FL, who was the leading ace at this base, with seven enemy planes destroyed, was shot down while strafing a Nazi airdrome near Brunswick, Germany. 

Olson and others were returning from a raid on Brunswick, when a crippled ME-109 led them to the field. The Americans destroyed six German planes on the ground.

Olson was shot down by ground fire, while making his third pass at the field. Captain John Elder, Ebensburg,  FL, said Olson's plane "dove straight into the ground." He declared the flyer would not have been killed if he had made only one pass as the others did.

Famous for his habit of closing in on the enemy before opening fire, Olson said, only a short time before his death, "When you get in a fight, it's  either them or you, and you may as well make damned sure you are going to get them."

Olson named his plane Ma Fran in tribute to his wife, Frances, employed at a USAAF School of Applied Tactics in the Training Film Department at Orlando. Olson's parents live in Fargo, ND.

The veteran of more than 100 missions, Olson was a commercial photographer in Eau Claire, WI, before entering the Army in 1941, as an enlisted man. He had won the Distinguished Flying Cross.


Captain Olson was employed as photographer at Storrs Photocraft Studio in Eau Claire, at the time he entered service, and has scores of friends and acquaintances in Eau Claire. His exploits as an ace fighter pilot brought him into the news and, although the above news dispatch from England carried by the Associated Press credits him with seven enemy planes destroyed, letters received from Eau Claire men in England recently stated that Captain Olson's bag of German planes had topped 16.

Publication of the above dispatch, dated April 8, was delayed until Captain Olson's family was notified.