EARL K. OLSEN, LCDR, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Earl Olsen '26

Date of birth: July 2, 1903

Date of death: November 30, 1942

Age: 39

Lucky Bag

From the 1926 Lucky Bag:

Loss

Earl was one of seven officers and 118 crew lost aboard USS Pensacola (CA 24) on November 30, 1942, at the Battle of Tassafaronga when the ship was heavily damaged by a torpedo and gunfire. He had reported aboard in February 1939 as the ship's engineering officer.

His wife was listed as next of kin. He has a memory marker in Illinois.

Navy Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Commander Earl Kenneth Olsen, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Engineering Officer aboard the Heavy Cruiser U.S.S. Pensacola (CA-24), after the torpedoing of his ship in enemy-controlled waters during the Battle of Tassafaronga on the night of 30 November 1942. Lieutenant Commander Olsen coolly and efficiently directed the evacuation of the surviving personnel and attempted to carry the body of another officer to a place of safety, after enemy torpedo fire had flooded the engine room where Lieutenant Commander Olsen was stationed. As a result of his gallant spirit of self-sacrifice on behalf of the men on watch with him, he succumbed to smoke and toxic gasses. The conduct of Lieutenant Commander Olsen throughout this action reflects great credit upon himself, and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 314 (May 1943)
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Commander

Namesake

USS Earl K. Olsen (DE 765) was named for Earl; the ship was sponsored by his widow.


Class of 1926

Earl is one of 35 members of the Class of 1926 in Memorial Hall.