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Thomas Richard Olsen Sr.

Obituary
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Maj. Gen. Thomas Richard Olsen Sr. SUMTER - Maj. Gen. Thomas Richard Olsen, Sr., USAF (Ret.), husband of Jacquelyn "Jackie" Keels Olsen, died Sunday, January 5, 2014, in Providence Hospital in Columbia. He was born June 28, 1934, to the late Oscar and Catherine Olsen. A native of Houston, Texas, Gen. Olsen earned his Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University in 1956, and a Master of Science degree in international relations from George Washington University in 1968. He received his commission through the Air Force ROTC program, entered active duty in January 1957, and completed pilot training April, 1958. As a command pilot with more than 4,400 flying hours, he flew the A-10, F-4, F-86, F-100, F-102 and F-111. Gen. Olsen served in assignments throughout the U.S. and around the world, including Germany, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, The Netherlands and the Persian Gulf. During his 35 years of active duty in the United States Air Force, he served as the vice commander, Headquarters Ninth Air Force, and deputy commander, U.S. Central Command Air Forces, Shaw Air Force Base. In Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, he served as the second in command for all U.S. and Allied Air Forces that destroyed Iraqi forces that had occupied Kuwait. His military decorations and awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 15 Oak Leaf Clusters and Air Force Commendation Medal with Oak leaf Cluster. After his retirement from the USAF in November, 1991, Olsen was the executive director of the Sumter Base Defense Committee for 17 years where he was instrumental in retaining Shaw Air Force Base in the Sumter community. Gen. Olsen served as a deacon and Sunday School teacher at Grace Baptist Church, 5th District Representative to South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA), member of the S.C. Military Task Force and Governor's Military Base Advisory Committee, member of the Selection Committee for the 5th District Service Academy Candidates under Senator Jim DeMint, member and past-president of the USC-Sumter Partnership Educational Foundation, and past vice-chairman of the South Carolina Commission for Higher Education (5th District representative). He was the founding chairman of The Tuomey Foundation Board of Governors, a member of the Sumter Greater Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee and the Sumter Education Committee, member of the Sumter Rotary Club, and member and past-president of the Sumter Kiwanis Club. Olsen received the Order of the Palmetto from the Governor of South Carolina, Mayor's Community Service Award, and the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce. He was also inducted into The National Aviation and Space Exploration Wall of Fame at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Udvar-Hazy Center and recently received the Palmetto Patriot Award by The Blue Star Mothers of America. Surviving are his wife, Jackie; four children, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Richard Olsen, USAF (Mary Helen), Lisa Olsen Wesolick (Stephen), Mary Martin Geddings, and Mason Geddings; seven grandchildren, Charlie Olsen, Katie Olsen, Joey Olsen (Kendra), Max, Mark and Eric Wesolick, Daniel Geddings; two great-grandchildren; and a sister, Kay Murff (Bill). Funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at Grace Baptist Church with Dr. Steve Williams and Bobby Richardson officiating. Burial with full military honors will follow in Sumter Cemetery. Pallbearers will be Jeff Faw, Jay Cox, Vernon Geddings, Dan Lyles, Talmadge Tobias, Daly Ward, Craig Justice, Johnny Alford, Gregg Martin and Hugh Cameron. Honorary pallbearers will be members of the Tuomey Foundation Board of Governors, members of the Sumter Kiwanis Club, and the ROMEOs Breakfast Club. The family will receive friends from noon to 2 p.m. Friday in the Fellowship Hall of Grace Baptist Church and other times at the home. Memorials may be made to Grace Baptist Church, 219 W. Calhoun Street, Sumter, SC 29150 or to the Tuomey Foundation, 102 N. Main Street, Sumter, SC 29150. On-line condolences may be sent to www.sumterfunerals.com. Elmore Hill McCreight Funeral Home & Crematory, 221 Broad Street, Sumter, is in charge of the arrangements (803) 775-9386.

Published in The State on Jan. 8, 2014
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