Eric T. Olson
|Eric Thor Olson|
Admiral Eric T. Olson, USN
Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command
January 24, 1952 |
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1973–2011|
|Commands held||United States Special Operations Command
Deputy, United States Special Operations Command
Naval Special Warfare Command
Naval Special Warfare Development Group
|Battles/wars||Battle of Mogadishu|
|Awards||Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal (2)
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star (w/Combat V)
Eric Thor Olson (born January 24, 1952) is a retired United States Navy admiral who last served as the eighth Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) from July 2, 2007 to August 8, 2011. He previously served as Deputy Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command from 2003 to July 2007. Olson was the first Navy SEAL ever to be appointed to three-star and four-star flag rank, as well as the first naval officer to be USSOCOM's combatant commander. He took command from Army general Bryan D. Brown in 2007. Brown and Olson had served together at the SOCOM headquarters in Tampa for four years. He retired from active duty on August 22, 2011 after over 38 years of service. He relinquished command of SOCOM to Admiral William H. McRaven the same day.
Olson graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1973 and qualified as a Naval Special Warfare (SEAL) officer in 1974. He graduated in BUD/S Class 76. He has served operationally in an Underwater Demolition Team, SEAL Team, SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team, Special Boat Squadron, and at the Naval Special Warfare Development Group. He has commanded at every level.
Olson has participated in several conflicts and contingency operations, and has served as a SEAL instructor, strategy and tactics development officer and joint special operations staff officer. His overseas assignments include service as a United Nations military observer in Israel and Egypt, and as Navy Programs officer in Tunisia. He served on the Navy staff as assistant deputy chief of Naval Operations (Plans, Policy, and Operations). The commander in charge of all Navy SEALs during Desert Storm, Ray Smith, hand picked Olson to be on his staff. In 1993, Olson participated in the Battle of Mogadishu, he was later awarded the Silver Star for his actions which was cited as "... during combat actions in Mogadishu, Somalia, in October 1993. while under withering enemy fire during actions in support of UNOSOM II operations, Captain Olson demonstrated a complete disregard for his own personal safety in the accomplishment of his mission". In 1994, Olson became commander of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, an American counter-terrorism unit. Olson was promoted again in 1999 when he assumed command of Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, California.
Olson earned a Master of Arts degree in National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School and studied at the Defense Language Institute. He is a Joint Specialty officer and Political-Military Affairs sub-specialist with emphasis on Africa and the Middle East. His awards include the Navy Distinguished Service Medal and Silver Star.
In addition to being the first three and four star Navy SEAL, Admiral Olson was the Bull Frog, the longest serving Navy SEAL still on duty. At four-star flag rank, Olson is the highest-ranking Navy SEAL to hold the Bull Frog title.
Olson was the first person to ever throw a ceremonial first pitch for a post-season game at the new Yankee Stadium in 2009.
Retirement and personal life
Olson met his wife, Marilyn, a native of New York City, when he was serving as a U.N. military observer in Israel and she was a member of the United Nation’s staff. They have been married for 30 years and have two children, Dan and Ally.
Awards and decorations
- Michael Mullen (August 22, 2011). "Retirement Ceremony for Adm Eric T. Olson, U.S. Special Operations Command". Retrieved September 11, 2012.
- "SOF Transformer" (– Scholar search), Special Operations Technology 2 (4), July 13, 2004[dead link]
- "Valor Awards for Eric Thor Olson". Military Times. Retrieved August 22, 2012.
- Face of Defense: Longest-serving Navy SEAL Retires Defense.gov
- "Industry Talk: Former SOCOM Commander Admiral Eric Olson Joins MEP And Iridium Communications".
- "Getting to Know Admiral Eric T. Olson".
Media related to Eric Olson at Wikimedia Commons