St. Paul airman’s remains come home after decades

Published 8:06 am Monday, June 22, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS — The remains of a St. Paul airman have been returned to Minnesota, 46 years after his EC-47 aircraft plunged into a Laotian jungle during the Vietnam War.

A Delta Air Lines plane carrying the remains of Maj. Robert Olson arrived at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Saturday. Olson’s widow, Mary Kay, and four of their five children watched an Air Force major carry Olson’s remains from the plane, place the urn inside a hearse and give Olson — who was known as Bob — one more salute.

Olson, then 32, was one of 10 airmen killed in the February 1969 crash. Unable to positively identify all the remains, officials buried them together at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis.

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Mary Kay Olson learned in September that DNA samples provided by the Olson family had produced a match good enough to identify her husband’s remains. She gave her children a choice of five cemeteries. Her children chose Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minnesota.

“This is about these people,” Mary Kay Olson told the Star Tribune, gesturing to her children. When their father disappeared, none of the children was older than 9. They all wondered where he was.