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.

Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

October 1926

Ensign, USS Milwaukee

January 1927

Ensign, USS Milwaukee

April 1927

Ensign, USS Milwaukee

October 1927

Ensign, Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Virginia

Others at this command: LT William Eaton '21.

January 1928

Ensign, Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Virginia

Others at this command: LT William Eaton '21.

April 1928

Ensign, Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Virginia

Others at this command: LT William Eaton '21.

July 1928

Ensign, USS Mahan

October 1928

Ensign, USS Mahan

January 1929

Ensign, USS Mahan

April 1929

Ensign, USS Mahan

July 1929

Ensign, USS Mahan

October 1929

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Mahan

January 1930

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Mahan

April 1930

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Lansdale

October 1930

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Lansdale

January 1931

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Lansdale

April 1931

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Hamilton

July 1931

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Hamilton

October 1931

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Hamilton

January 1932

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Hamilton

April 1932

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Hamilton

July 1934

Lieutenant (j.g.), for assignment, 16th Naval District

Others at this command: LTjg James Smith, Jr. '25.

October 1934

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Luzon

Others at this command: LTjg Benjamin Ghetzler '31.

January 1935

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Luzon

Others at this command: LTjg Benjamin Ghetzler '31.

April 1935

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Luzon

Others at this command: LTjg Benjamin Ghetzler '31.

October 1935

Lieutenant (j.g.), for assignment, Destroyer Squadron 5, USS Black Hawk

Others at this command: LCDR Ryland Tisdale '15.

January 1936

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Pope

April 1936

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Pope

July 1936

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Pope

January 1937

Lieutenant (j.g.), staff, Destroyer Squadron 5, USS Black Hawk

April 1937

Lieutenant, staff, Destroyer Squadron 5, USS Black Hawk

September 1937

Lieutenant, Engineering Experiment Station, Naval Academy

January 1938

Lieutenant, Engineering Experiment Station, Naval Academy

July 1938

Lieutenant, Engineering Experiment Station, Naval Academy

January 1939

Lieutenant, Engineering Experiment Station, Naval Academy

October 1939

Lieutenant, USS Pensacola

Others at this command: ENS Walter Douglas, Jr. '39.

June 1940

Lieutenant, USS Pensacola

Others at this command: CAPT Norman Scott '11, ENS Walter Douglas, Jr. '39, and ENS Alan Schirmer '40.

November 1940

Lieutenant, USS Pensacola

Others at this command: CAPT Norman Scott '11, ENS Walter Douglas, Jr. '39, and ENS Alan Schirmer '40.

April 1941

Lieutenant, USS Pensacola

Others at this command: CAPT Norman Scott '11, ENS Walter Douglas, Jr. '39, ENS Alan Schirmer '40, and ENS Jay Moss '41.


Class of 1926

Earl is one of 36 members of the Class of 1926 on Virtual Memorial Hall.