ERNEST A. OLDS, COL, USAF

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Ernest Olds '56

Date of birth: July 14, 1934

Date of death: March 11, 1968

Age: 33

Lucky Bag

From the 1956 Lucky Bag:


1956 Olds LB 2.jpg

Obituary

From USNA '56:

Colonel Olds was declared “Killed in Action” on 2 May 1978, over 10 years after he was reported “Missing in Action” on 11 March 1968. Ernie was flying an F-4D from Da Nang Air Base in South Viet Nam to North Viet Nam at the time of his “missing” status. He is survived by his wife, Susan, of Salisbury, MD, two sons Ernest W. and Jeffrey A., and one daughter, Ellen C., their spouses and six grandchildren.

Ernie came to the Academy directly out of high school in Elmhurst, IL. There his interest in flying spurred him to join the Civil Air Patrol, which led him to join the Aeronautical Engineering Club at USNA. Also, being musically inclined, he joined NA-10 and other musical groups. Later, he became a model railroader.

After graduation from the Naval Academy, Ernie married and entered Air Force pilot training at Marana Air Base , AZ. There he excelled and after more training was assigned to Misawa Air Base, Japan. Following this tour, Ernie went to the University of Michigan where he gained two degrees – Aeronautical Engineering and Instrumentation Engineering. Then he went to Holloman AFB, NM (Missile Development) and on to the Flight Test Division at Griffiss AFB, NY. Being a proficient pilot with a broad engineering background, Ernie applied for the NASA training program, in which he advanced until the final selection process. Ernie then went to McDill AFB for F-4 training, and subsequent deployment to Da Nang, Viet Nam. Great pilot, great engineer, and great guy.

Family

From Warhawk Nation:

Married Susan E. Nock of Salisbury, MD in June, 1956. Children - Ernest W. Olds, born in Tucson, AZ in 1957; Ellen Olds, born at Misawa AFB, Japan in 1959; Jeffrey Olds, born at Holloman AFB, Alamogordo, NM in 1965. Ernie and Susan Olds subsequently became grandparents to six grandchildren.

Susan passed away in January 2017 (via email from their son, Ernie, on July 14, 2018).

Career

From Warhawk Nation:

1956: Graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. Upon graduation, was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the USAF.

1957: Basic Jet Pilot Training at Webb AFB, Big Spring, TX.

1958-1960: Trained at the Interceptor Advanced Flying School at Moody AFB, Valdosta, GA. Upon completion of his training Ernie was assigned to the 4th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Misawa AFB, Japan where Ernie and his family lived on the base for three years.

1961-63: Ernie and his family returned to the USA and moved to Ann Arbor, MI where Ernie enrolled as a full-time graduate student at the University of Michigan, earning two masters degrees in 1963 - one in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering and the other in Instrumentation Engineering.

1963: Assigned to the USAF Missile Development Center at Holloman AFB in Alamogordo.

December 1965: Applied for the Pilot / Astronaut training Program at NASA.

1966: Transferred to Flight Test Division at Griffin AFB in Rome, NY. Ernie was in the final selection process for the NASA Astronaut Program when he learned that he had been eliminated from further consideration.

1967: Re-assigned to McDill AFB in Tampa, FL where he received training in the F-4 Phantom jet plane. Upon completion of the F-4 training, Ernie moved his family back to MD and left for Da Nang AFB, Vietnam in September 1967.

March 1968: Ernie was shot down over hostile territory and was listed as Missing in Action (MIA) from March 1968 until May 1978 when his status was changed to Killed in Action (KIA).

1996: Ernie's cremated remains were repatriated to the United States and entombed in a Columbarium at Arlington National Cemetery. Ernie ended his career as a Colonel in the USAF, having received the Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross, National Defense Medal, and other medals and awards posthumously.

Loss

From Warhawk Nation:

Then Maj. Ernest A. Olds and 1Lt. Albert E. Rodriguez comprised the crew of an F4D Phantom fighter/bomber sent on a mission over North Vietnam on March 11, 1968. Their mission area was near a railroad which runs parallel to the Nguon Nay River in Quang Binh Province.

At a point about 5 miles southwest of the city of Ron, Olds and Rodriguez' aircraft was shot down. Other aircraft in the area saw the crash site, but heard no emergency beepers, nor did they see any parachutes indicating that one or more of the crew ejected from the crippled aircraft.

Following the return of his remains, he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery on September 27, 1996.


Class of 1956

Ernest is one of 26 members of the Class of 1956 in Memorial Hall.