Testimonies from the Midwest

 

T/3 Dale Vernon Olson, 11th Armored Division

  T/3 Dale Vernon Olson    Division patch   Photo of Dale Vernon Olson

Dale Vernon Olson was born on September 27, 1918, at Hetland, Kingsbury County, South Dakota. Raised as a Lutheran, Dale helped on the farm until entering the service on June 2, 1942. The following is his story, told in his own words.

Service Record: I was drafted into the Army and sworn in at Ft. Snelling, Minnesota. I had my basic training at Ft. Francis Warren at Cheyenne, Wyoming. After some schooling at Normoyle Ordinance Base at San Antonio, Texas, and awhile at Barlsdale Field, Texas, I was put in the 11th Armored Division, which was at Camp Polk, Louisiana. We had maneuvers and I was sent to tank maintenance school at Ft. Knox [Kentucky] and also mechanic training at GM in Detroit and White Motor in Cleveland. We had desert maneuvers at (tent) Camp Ibis in California. From there we went to Camp Cooke, California, where we got our equipment ready for overseas shipment. I was in England for a couple months getting everything ready for combat before we crossed the English Channel. We crossed the Channel and in 3 days we were up in Belgium and our Division was in combat in the Battle of the Bulge. I did mechanic work and drive 6 x 6 truck in  convoy and tanks some.

Camp Encounter: I did not participate in the liberation of Mauthausen. Mauthausen is located near Linz, Austria, and was liberated by the Swiss delegate of the ICRC, Mr. Lewis Hafliger and Staff Sgt. Al Kosiek, commander of 1 Platoon (23 men), Troop D, 41st Cavalry Reconnaissance of the 11 Armored Division. I was there 2 days later and do not have words to express how horrible it was. Sometimes I wondered while in the Army why I was there but after viewing these camps I had no question why I was there and felt grateful that I had done my little part to stop these atrocities. Gusen was liberated on May 5, 1945, and Mauthausen on May 6, 1945.

Awards: I earned 3 battle stars.

 

After the War: Technician Third Grade Dale Olson was discharged on December 27, 1945. He had this to say about his experiences.

Ruth and I were married in L.A. when I was at Camp Cooke before I went overseas. She worked in LA but was a neighbor girl from back home and was waiting for me when I arrived home. My folks retired and we farmed the homeplace for about 45 years until we retired. We have 3 children: Sharon in Sioux Falls, Paul on the farm, and Jim in Watertown. We also have seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

 

Advice from a WW II Veteran to Today's Youth:

It does bring both the tragedy and the hope that we will not have to repeat this terror. But it is only a hope and someday with God's help, tragedies like this will never happen again.

Olson's buddies by the Danube River              Olson in the German jeep they used for a few days

left: Olson's buddies by the Danube River; right: Olson in the German jeep they used for a few days; photos courtesy of Dale Olson

Pictures taken by Olson's group who traveled to Mauthausen to see first hand what took place. These bodies were taken outside of Mauthausen in preparation for burial                  Pictures taken by Olson's group who traveled to Mauthausen to see first hand what took place. These bodies were taken outside of Mauthausen in preparation for burial

Pictures taken by Olson's group who traveled to Mauthausen to see first hand what took place. These bodies were taken outside of Mauthausen in preparation for burial; photos courtesy of Dale Olson

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