Bio: Olson, Todd (15 Dec. 2005)

Contact: Crystal Wendt

Surnames: Olson, Rigdon

----Sources: Marshfield News Herald (Marshfield, Wood Co., Wis.) December 15, 2005

War widow: He fought for Iraqi freedom

Loyal woman says husband believed in U.S. mission By Jake Rigdon - For the Marshfield News-Herald

LOYAL -- It's been almost one year since Nancy Olson's husband, Staff Sgt. Todd Olson, was killed in Iraq.

Now a single mother of four, Olson says she's using this time to reflect on the role her husband played in Iraq's quest for freedom and the parliamentary elections scheduled for today. "I definitely think what Todd did was awesome," said the 36-year-old Loyal woman. "There are a lot of freedoms we enjoy here that the people in Iraq do not have, like the ability to celebrate holidays.

"The reason why we're there, the reason why Todd was there, was so that (Iraqi) children can some day live like we do, with freedom."

Todd Olson, 36, died Dec. 27, 2004, from wounds he suffered in Samarra the day before when an improvised explosive device detonated. He is survived by his wife and four children: Trevor, 17; Jesse, 16; Cody, 13; and Kasey, 5.

When news of Olson's death first reached Loyal, about 60 miles west of Wausau, the town took down all its Christmas decorations and put up American flags.

Since then, Nancy Olson has had to play the role of mother and father. With the anniversary of her husband's death coming up, coupled with the Christmas holidays, Olson says she has devoted her time to her children.

"Everything I do now I have to think about how it affects them, and I pray now more than ever," she said. "We talk a lot more now. My (three) boys are all teenagers now, all young men.

"As a whole, I think the kids are handling this well, but there are little things that you can see how (Todd's death) affects them. It's wrestling season now, and the boys really wish their dad was there to watch them. You know, I cheer them on at all their tournaments, but I don't know the wrestling moves. You just do the best you can and pray to God for guidance."

Todd Olson was a squad leader with Detachment 1, Company C, of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry. His platoon helped protect Iraqis from insurgents in Samarra, but the unit was fairly isolated from other units, Nancy Olson said.

His death helped crystallize for her the importance of taking care of those who cannot care for themselves.

"A lot of (1-128th) soldiers who came back told me how important it was to be there, that it would have been a sin to let people continue to live like that over there," she said. "This constitution, this election, is a start in giving them a new, better life."

Today, as millions of Iraqis vote on a democratic constitution, Nancy Olson will prepare for the holidays and a memorial for her husband with help from family and friends. Although she dearly misses him, she is not bitter about his death. The reason why Iraqis are able to vote, she said, is because of people like her husband.

"We always felt that it was our Christian duty to be there, that it was important for the Americans to stick up for the Iraqi people," she said. "This is just our small part in making the world a better place."



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