Captain Norman Olson - US Navy SEAL - The Villages, FL
I first met Captain Olson 12 years ago at a gathering of service veterans in The Villages, FL, and sharing a Navy background, we became friends. I was most impressed with his record of Naval Service as well as his charity work. Here was someone who had a distinguished Naval Career, and since retirement, has devoted a majority of his time and resources in support of our military veterans and local communities for the past 37 years as a Florida Resident.
I speak from experience because I have been involved with him in a number of these activities since 2012. Even those on the national side, such as the Navy SEAL Foundation, have had an impact on veterans in Florida who served in Naval Special Warfare as did the annual fundraising through the Tampa Bay Frogman Swim.
According to Captain Olson, his most significant accomplishment was as the founding director of the National Naval UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, FL. Without his vision, determination and sacrifice, it would not be the national attraction that it is today.
Another aspect of his activities in Florida was his work with the University of Florida NROTC Unit for mentoring and recommending Midshipmen for the Navy’s BUDS training and later getting them involved as Guardians for WWII Vets and as an Honor Guard for Villages Honor Flights.
Two US Naval Sea Cadet Corps Battalions also benefited from his involvement and support, one in Okeechobee, FL and the other in Fruitland Park, FL. The US Naval Sea Cadet Corps program has been described as one of the best mentoring programs in Florida for young adults.
A common thread through all of these accomplishments was his involvement, focus and support, no matter what the level of sophistication, young or old, veteran or civilian. He was also very effective in bringing other veterans and civilians in to assist him in his endeavors. When I first asked Captain Olson about his being a nominee, he was somewhat put off, saying, I didn’t do all this for credit, I did it because it needed to get done! Captain Olson exemplifies the USMMA Motto, “Acta non Verba”, “Action, Not Words”!
Education and Training Accomplishments:
- 1953 – United States Merchant Marine Academy – Commissioned, USNR; BS Degree, Marine Engineering; USCG License, Third Assistant Engineer, Steam Vessels.
- 1971 – Naval War College, Senior Course – Recognized for authoring an Honors Thesis. During off duty time, participated in the graduate program offered by The George Washington University and earned a MS Degree – International Affairs.
- 1977 – Pepperdine University – While serving as Commanding officer of a Major Shore Installation, during off duty time, earned a MA Degree – Human Resources Management.
- 1992 – University of New Haven — While employed as Director of Industrial Security, General Dynamics Corporation, during off duty time, earned a Professional Certificate in Security Management and was designated a Certified Protection Professional
- 1960-1961 – Sales Engineer, John J. Nesbit, Inc., North Bradford, CT. – Air conditioning and refrigeration. (Serving in the US Naval Reserve)
- 1983- 1984 – Director of Security: Reagan-Bush ’84 Authorized Campaign Committee, Washington, DC – Responsible for policy, procedures and oversight relating to the uniformed security force. Served as the primary liaison with the U.S. Secret Service and the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Bomb Squad.
- 1984- 1985 – Founding Director: National Naval UDT-SEAL Museum, Ft. Pierce, FL
- 1986-1988 – President ANV (Acta non Verba), Ltd: Jupiter, FL – Provided client specific analysis, training, and education in all aspects of maritime security, with emphasis on the cruise line industry and foreign and domestic port and harbor facilities.
- 1988-1991 – Director, Industrial Security: Electric Boat Division, General Dynamics Corporation, Groton, CT – Electric Boat Division is the Nation’s premier builder of nuclear submarines. Directed a 200-person security force with oversight responsibility for over 25,000 employees, Responsible for all aspects of physical, personnel and information security.
- 1991-1999 – Government Contractor, Panama City, FL -_General Manager, managed contracts supporting the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program at the Coastal Systems Station and the Systems Engineering and Technical Assistance (SETA) contract at the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).
Advocacy open Behalf of Veterans:
1984-1985 – Founding Director: National Naval UDT-SEAL Museum, Ft. Pierce, FL.~
Captain Olson was brought onboard to turn the Museum dream into a reality. He was able to get the Museum off the ground with no staff, occasional volunteers and a minuscule budget. From February to November 1985, he completed the Museum in a record nine months period. He presided over the opening of the Navy UDT/SEAL Museum on Veterans Day 1985. He also established the UDT/SEAL Museum Association as a 501c3, Non-profit Organization. While living remotely from his family and with the 24/7 challenge ahead, he rented an apartment and paid for all personal living expenses at no cost to the Museum or St. Lucie County. In February 1986, he turned the Museum over to a new director. Over the years he has supported tire Museum financially, and 10 years later, the Museum Association established the “Captain Norman H Olson Distinguished Achievement Award” awarded annually on Veterans Day to one or more recipients for service to the Museum and to Naval Special Warfare. He currently serves as Director Emeritus of the National Naval UDT/SEAL Museum, Ft. Pierce, FL.
Since its inception, the museum has grown from a local to a national museum, and is now “one of the top and most treasured and visited attractions of St. Lucie County”. It had 80,000 + visitors in 2018. The museum hosts several events during the year, one being the “Muster” which is held over Veteran’s Day weekend. It is a three day outdoor display of Navy Special Warfare, open to the public for free, and draws 10,000 + spectators.
2000-2013 -Navy SEAL Foundation, Virginia Beach, VA.- Captain Olson is a Founding Director on the Foundation Board. He brought a wealth of operational experience, as well as private sector “know-how” to this new burgeoning foundation. He is an avid spokesman for the Foundation, even to this day, and he has been a dynamic speaker and Masters of Ceremonies at numerous key events. The foundation has earned Charity Navigator’s four star rating for eight consecutive years. He was cited by the Foundation President for his steadfast and patriotic contributions to the Naval Special Warfare community and their families. Their fund raising has continued to grow dramatically to support all of their programs. For 2018, it was $12.9 million. One of their Florida fundraising events is the annual Tampa Bay Frogman Swim, a 3.1 mile open water swim in January from St. Petersburg to Tampa. Captain Olson has acted as an advisor from NSF and has donated the awards for the 10 years it has been held. It involves a lot of locals and veterans as participants, volunteers and spectators. The 2019 event raised $712,000 for the NSF.
Civil Activities and Contributions:
2001- Florida State University, Panama City, FL – Captain Oison voluntarily, set up and monitored an advanced Science Diving Program, Introduction to Hyperbaric Science
2001, 2015-2018 — US Naval Sea Cadet Corps Programs- Provide highly motivated young men and women, ages 13-18, the opportunity to prepare for service to their country.
2001 – US Naval Sea Corps Cadet Trident Battalion in Okeechobee, FL – Captain Olson was the SEAL-UDT Museum Association representative. The Battalion was named the first of 300 in the US in 2000. It was sponsored by The Okeechobee SherrifPs Office. Captain Olson recommended that the state of Florida pass a resolution commending the unit and its leadership for their work in supporting the program. The Resolution was presented by Governor Bush and his Cabinet to the Unit and its’ Leadership on October 30, 2001.
2008 -A SOARING SALUTE TO THE SEALS, The Villages, FL – Captain Olson, with little assistance and a three month deadline, put on a one day “Salute to the Navy SEALS” at The Villages Polo Field, on March 29. He arranged for the participation of active duty SEALS, Special Operations Boat Crews, and their equipment for display. A SEAL Fitness Challenge was available for all over the age of 13 and students from 68 regional high schools were invited to participate. There was an opening freefall jump by Captain Olson, followed by a jump by the Navy Parachute Team, the “Leap Frogs”! The event was open and free to the public. Over 7,000 attendees had an opportunity to see and visit with our SEALs and Boat Crews.
2008-2018 – University of Florida, NROTC – Captain Olson was recognized for his extraordinary commitment and mentorship of the University’s NROTC and the Special Warfare Program. He mentored and recommended more than a dozen Midshipmen for the Navy’s Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL training. Concurrently, he became involved with Villages Honor Flight in 2012. During the early phases of growth, there was a need for volunteers to serve as Guardians for each veteran. With the Commanding Officer, NROTC,’s support, he was able to get volunteer Midshipmen to serve as Guardians for each flight. Since Guardians had to pay for each flight, Captain Olson paid for each to serve as a Guardian, which over time involved a total of 10. Additionally, he arranged for 6 to 8 Midshipmen to attend each homecoming flight as an Honor Guard. The primary purpose of both efforts was to expose the Midshipmen to World War II Veterans for educational purposes and for the Veterans to be exposed to clean-cut, squared away young patriots that will be filling their shoes. This was in addition to his other support of the Honor Flights on fundraising and the departure and homecoming of each flight.
2012 – 2017- Villages Honor Flight, Lady Lake, FL — Veteran liaison for speaker bureau, in five surrounding counties, advising veterans about Honor Flight. Donated $10,000.00 which included each Midshipmen serving as Guardians
2015-2018 — US Naval Navy Sea Cadet Corps Thomas R. Norris SEAL (Medal of Honor) Battalion in Fruitland Park, FL – Captain Olson served as a mentor and advisor, he set up a board of Navy veteran mentors and brought in speakers for their meetings. He got them involved with flightless Honor Flights for disabled veterans, and providing support for the annual Muster at the National Naval SEAL-UDT Museum.
2016-2018, VIP Warriors, 501c (3), Clearwater, FL – supporting wounded veterans, in their recovery, through participation in endurance athletic events, including cycling, obstacle courses and triathlons. Captain Olson provided support and funding to help our veterans train and compete.
Awards and Honors:
- 1983 – USMMA Silver Mariner Award: 30-year professional career in Sea Services 2001 — US Naval Sea Cadet Corps Citation for recognition of your enthusiastic and dedicated services to this American Youth Program.
- 2002 – USSOCOM Command Medal: Unwavering loyalty, devotion to duty and dedication reflecting great credit to him, NSW, and the Warrior Community.
- 2011 – USSOCOM Commando Hall of Honor Medal: Extraordinary and enduring impact as a Special Operations Forces Warrior
- 2013 – USMMA Outstanding Professional Achievement Award: Class 1953 at the 60th Homecoming Reunion
- 2014 -Appointed Director Emeritus of the National Naval UDT-SEAL museum. Ft. Pierce, FL
- 2017 – Co-Author “AIR CAPABILITIES of the U.S. NAW SEALS, A HISTORY OF INOVATION”. Captain Olson played a significant role in the development of the air capabilities. A parachutist, he took the first group of Frogmen to the Army’s Basic Airborne training School and founded the first UDT-SEAL parachute demonstration team. He made his 4,000th freefall jump on his 80th birthday.
Military Officers Association of America Navy League of the United States Vietnam Veterans
- Memorial Association Special Operations Association
- Office of Strategic Services Disabled American Veterans
- UDT/SEAL Association UDT/SEAL Museum Association
- Joint Special Operations Association Villages Honor Flight
- World War II History Club
- United States Naval Memorial