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The Villages

Villager who was driving force in Navy SEALs to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery

Capt. Norm Olson

A Villager who was a driving force in the Navy SEALs will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Norman Olson, 89, died last month at Cornerstone Hospice after suffering blunt force head trauma after a fall at his home in the Village of Santo Domingo.

Olson graduated in 1955 from the Navy’s Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (Sea, Air and Land) School. After a civilian stint, he returned to active duty, in 1963, to command a UDT team that conducted special operations in Southeast Asia and Vietnam. He also formed and led the UDT Para-Team (West) that became the U.S. Navy Parachute Demonstration Team Leap Frogs. Later, he commanded another UDT-SEAL team that subsequently developed into the world-famous Chuting Stars.

He wrote about his years as a Navy SEAL in the book, “Air Capabilities of the U.S. Navy SEALs,” which was published in 2017.

“In the Navy, if you’re not on a ship or a submarine, or in Naval Aviation, you’re considered a second class citizen. In those early days, we had to struggle to be recognized,” Olson recounted at a book-signing event  in The Villages. “We didn’t know what we were doing. So, I guess we were very lucky.”

Norm Olson made thousands of parachute jumps.

After several other command assignments, Olson ended his career, in 1983, as the first chief of staff for the newly formed Joint Special Operations Command.

Not one to slow down, on his 80th birthday, Olson successfully completed his 4,000th freefall parachute jump.

He was the founding director of the National Navy UDT/SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Barbara “Bobbie” Olson. They moved to The Villages in 2003. Survivors also include their children: Christine Mabe (Jeff), Craig Olson, Caren Whitson (Joe), and Carole Brennan (Vincent), and grandchildren: Cody Olson (Elizabeth), Molly Brennan and Liam Brennan. 

Memorials may be made to the Navy SEAL Foundation in Virginia Beach, Va. or the National Navy UDT/SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce.

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