Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Latest News

April 30, 2014

World War II veteran Olsen part of Honor Flight to capital

Corsicana — Bill Olsen, 93, of Corsicana flew to Washington D.C. this past weekend, part of an Honor Flight taking World War II veterans to the nation’s capital.

He and more than a dozen other vets were the guests of the family of Temple “TR” Kennedy, which paid for the trip. They went to the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, Iwo Jima Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial, as well as the 624-acre Arlington Cemetery.

Olsen left early Friday and got back late Saturday. It was a whirlwind journey, but one that meant a lot.

“The most impressive part was Arlington Cemetery,”  Olsen said. “Every U.S. citizen should see it to know the price the nation has faced for our freedom.”

The group also toured the World War II Memorial, which was only dedicated in 2004. There, Olsen found the marker where his unit served, and he took pictures with fellow tourists who shook his hand and thanked him for his service.

“The visit brought vivid memories back of World War II,” he said. “I thought ‘Here I am, sitting with a group that had experienced the same things I did.’ That brought the whole thing home to me. Some good and some bad.

“The camaraderie of the group, that brought good memories back,” Olsen said. The bad were the memories of brothers at arms who never made it home, or who have since died, Olsen explained.

Helping to make the trip a positive experience was his guide, U.S. Coast Guard officer Jonathan Schafler. Each of the veterans was assigned their own active duty guide on the trip. Schafler offered information about the stops, and took most of the photos for Olsen.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the trip,” Olsen said.

Olsen was scheduled to leave from Austin Friday morning, and he left Corsicana around 6 a.m. to make the flight. When there was a wreck on Interstate 35, he and his daughter Pam Dunn got a little antsy, but they made it fine.

When they arrived, Olsen and all the other veterans were escorted with a bagpiper and honor guard through the airport to their departure area.

“People just stopped what they were doing and applauded,” Dunn said. “It was very impressive.”

In September 1945, about a month after atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of HIroshima and Nagasaki, Bill Olsen was assigned to those cities, part of the Allied occupying forces. He went to Hiroshima first, then was dispatched to Nagasaki to help destroy planes that had survived the blast near that city. Olsen served in the 24th Infantry, 21st Regiment, K Company of the U.S. Army.

“People in later days cussed old Truman (for ordering the bombs dropped), but he saved my life,” Olsen said. The buildings made of brick and cement were turned into dust, he recalled.

“The Japanese people were scared to death of us. They expected us to kill all of them. After about three months, that disappeared. They realized we weren’t barbarians.”

Olsen’s earlier service in the Philippines, as a scout slogging through the jungles with a Thompson machine gun, was day-to-day survival, he said. He contracted malaria while over there.

The young man from Corsicana was drafted into service, and he didn’t want to reenlist, although he was promised he could get home sooner if he did. When he got home, he went into ranching. Olsen and his late wife, Jane Hill Olsen, had two daughters, Pam Dunn and Becky Myers.  Adjusting to peace again was a challenge, Olsen admitted, joking: “I’m not sure I’ve adjusted yet.”

He applied to be part of an Honor Flight in 2011, so he was very surprised to get the call a few weeks ago that he’d been put on a list to go in April.

“We’d forgotten about it because he applied so long ago,” Pam said. “When they called, we were both so surprised. I think it’s wonderful they’re doing this.”


Janet Jacobs may be reached via email at


Text Only
Latest News
  • 8-1-14 city council meet.jpg City to raise water, sewer rates

    Water rates, sewer rates and trash rates will all go up for Corsicana city residents, according to preliminary budget figures presented to the city council Thursday afternoon.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • City cancels ambulance contract with county

    The City of Corsicana has notified Navarro County officials it is cancelling its agreement with the county to provide EMS ambulance service to areas outside the city limits. According to a letter sent to county officials by Corsicana Mayor Chuck McClanahan, ambulance service to county residents will end on Jan. 31, 2015.

    July 31, 2014

  • 7-31-14 Fire2.jpg Deputies, fire departments have busy weekend

    An attempt to bootleg electricity off a pole using jumper cables is believed to have caused a building fire that took out a former restaurant in Angus Friday morning, one of a series of calls to Navarro County Sheriff’s Office to the southern end of the county over the weekend.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • 7-31-14 Rice ISD Alex Stough mug.jpg Rice students win UIL scholarships

    Three Rice High School students received UIL scholarships for competing in academic competitions at the state level, according to advisor Alan Lewis.

    July 30, 2014 3 Photos

  • 7-31-14 Collin Main signal.jpg Signal finally fixed

    It took a couple of months to get the parts, but the signal light at Main and Collin streets in downtown Corsicana is finally up and working again.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • A more vigorous US economy appears to be emerging

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy has rebounded with vigor from a grim start to 2014 and should show renewed strength into next year.

    July 30, 2014

  • Poll: Americans cool to border-crossing children

    SAN DIEGO — Americans are wary of granting refugee status to children crossing the U.S. border to flee strife-torn countries in Central America, and most in an Associated Press-GfK poll say the U.S. does not have a moral obligation to accept asylum seekers generally.

    July 30, 2014

  • 7-30-14 4-H robotics.jpg Science made simple

    Hats out of old newspaper and leftover wrapping paper, simple robots out of popsicle sticks, rubber bands and pencil erasers, a microcosm of the aquifer made of root beer and ice cream — with a dollop of chocolate syrup. These were among the fun science projects at Tuesday’s 4-H Discovery Days event at the Navarro County Youth Expo.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • County: No increase in city subsidies

    As budget talks continue at the Navarro County Courthouse, one consensus that’s been reached will impact budget planning at the Corsicana Government Center.

    July 29, 2014

  • 7-30-14 AthensFire.jpg Senate report finds fault with government inspection of chemical facilities

    WASHINGTON — The government has failed to inspect virtually all of the chemical facilities that it considers to be at a higher risk for a terror attack and has underestimated the threat to densely populated cities, congressional investigators say.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Twitter Updates