Bio: Olson, Todd D. (6 Jan. 2005)
Contact: Crystal Wendt
----Source: Marshfield News Herald (Marshfield, Wood Co., Wis.) Thu, Jan 6, 2005
Farewell to fallen soldier More than 1,500 people pay respects to Loyal son
By Jonathan Gneiser
Marshfield News-Herald LOYAL - Loyal High School's gymnasium, which seats about 1,500 people, was filled beyond capacity Wednesday evening during the public funeral services for a hometown soldier who was killed in Iraq.
Staff Sgt. Todd D. Olson, 36, died Dec. 26 in the 67th Combat Support Hospital in Tikrit, Iraq, from wounds he received in Samarra the day before when an improvised bomb detonated, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. He was a member of Detachment 1, Company C, of the Wisconsin National Guard's 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry.
"We all know quite a bit about Todd because there's been much said about him in recent days," said Loyal Mayor Arthur Olsen during his memorial remarks.
Todd returned to Loyal because "a small town is a good place to raise children," Olsen said.
"When I think of Todd, I think of what the late president John F. Kennedy said, 'Ask not what your country can do for you Ð ask what you can do for your country.' Todd has certainly fulfilled that," Olsen said.
Among Todd's survivors are his parents, Donald and Shirley Olson of Loyal; his widow, Nancy, and his four children, Trevor, 17, Jesse, 16, Cody, 13, and Kasey, 5.
Lt. Col. Steve Bensend said Todd was an accomplished squad leader who relished the responsibility to train the younger members of his squad. "He cared about his men almost as much as he cared for his own children," he said.
Many of those who attended the program had to wipe away tears during a slide presentation featuring pictures from throughout Todd's life, which was followed by an emotional rendition of country music star Toby Keith's hit song, "American Soldier," sung by Nancy's cousin, Mark Meyer of Hudson.
During the service, thoughts written down by Todd's oldest son, Trevor, were read by a friend.
"December 26, 2004, was the day I lost a friend, role model, hero, coach and my dad," wrote Todd, who went on to share memories about hunting and fishing trips and other times when his dad taught him life lessons.
"Dad knew Jesse, Cody and I would be able to take care of Nancy and Kasey," Trevor wrote.
Trevor also wrote about how Nancy would become concerned when he and his dad would wrestle, especially when it resulted in a body print in drywall.
"Now he has given his life to keep us safe and help the Iraqi people," he wrote.
The Rev. Roman Kaiser of St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Loyal began his message to the crowd quoting from the poem, "I, American," written by James Schecklman, which was printed in the memorial service program.
"I am someone you know and someone you love. I am the little boy you raised on the farm." After reflecting on Todd's sacrifice, Kaiser concluded that Olson was a farm boy who "gave everything." Gov. Jim Doyle said he attended the ceremony to express his condolences on behalf of all of the state's citizens.
"Of all the duties I have as governor, there is none I take more seriously than to serve as commander in chief of the Wisconsin National Guard," Doyle said.
"There is no citizen soldier who exemplifies the Wisconsin National Guard better than Todd Olson." As full military rites were performed, Olson was awarded a combat infantry badge, good conduct medal, meritorious service medal, Purple Heart and Bronze Star medal, which were presented to his widow. After a rifle salute sounded and taps played outside the gym, the flag from Todd's coffin was presented to the family.
The Clark County Male Chorus and the Clark County Choraliers also performed hymns and patriotic songs.
A memorial fund for Todd's family has been established. Donations can be made to the Todd Olson Family Memorial, Account Number 34465288, at any M&I Bank location in Wisconsin.
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