Bio: Olson, Todd (27 Dec. 2004)

Contact: Crystal Wendt

----Source: Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Eau Claire, County, Wisconsin) Front Page; 12/27/2004

Loyal in mourning for soldier killed in Iraq

Todd Olson was member of school board, lifelong resident

By Chris Vetter [Chippewa Falls News Bureau]

The death of a 36-year-old soldier from Loyal has left the city of 1,300 residents in mourning, Mayor Arthur Olsen said today.

Staff Sgt. Todd Olson served with the Wisconsin National Guard unit based in Neillsville.

"I’m sure the entire city is in shock and grief," Olsen said. "You read about it almost every day, of someone killed in a nearby city, but it doesn’t really hit you until it happens to someone in your hometown."

Olsen said he heard about Olson’s death late Sunday night. He didn’t know how Olson died.

"Flags have been ordered to half-staff (in the city)," Olsen said. "I’m pretty sure the whole city is in tears over it."

The mayor said Olson was a lifelong resident of Loyal, in the eastern half of Clark County.

"He was a fun-loving guy, easygoing, and a family man," Olsen said. "He was a church-goer and community minded. He loved sports and his family, that’s for sure."

Olson and his wife have four children, Olsen said.

Olson was a member of the Loyal school board before resigning when his unit was activated.

He was one of 35 soldiers in Detachment 1, Company C of the Wisconsin National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry. Although the unit is based in Neillsville, the battalion’s headquarters is in Eau Claire.

Loyal High School Principal David Oldenberg said he had known Olson for several years, long before Olson joined the school board.

"He was a good man," Oldenberg said. "It’s a tragic loss. It’s hard to get your mind around it that Todd is gone."

Oldenberg said staff members began calling each other Sunday night when people learned of Olson’s death.

"He will be sorely missed," Oldenberg said. "I really valued his opinion."

Oldenberg said Olson was an active member of the school board. The board decided to leave his seat vacant so Olson could have it back when he returned.

Todd Olson’s uncle, Dennis Olson, said Todd graduated from Loyal High School in 1986 and went to a business college in La Crosse.

"He was a super young man," Dennis Olson said. "He was involved in a lot of community events."

Todd Olson coached Pop Warner youth football and was a member of the Lions Club, Dennis Olson said.

Dennis Olson was at Todd’s house last night. He said the family had been told early in the day Sunday that Todd had been injured. However, later in the evening, they were informed he had died from the injuries.

Dennis Olson said Todd will be missed.

"He was just one of those good guys, a good citizen," Dennis Olson said. "He was a good father and husband."

Officials at M & I Bank, where Olson worked as a loan officer, declined to comment today.

The Department of Defense had not confirmed Olson’s death this morning. Lt. Col. Tim Donovan of the Wisconsin National Guard said he could not comment on any fatalities until the agency has made an announcement.

Olson would become the 32nd soldier from Wisconsin to be killed during fighting in Iraq.

Vetter can be reached at 723-0303 or Chris.Vetter@



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