Capt. Patrick Brian Olson was an A-10 pilot who served in the Air Force during Desert Storm. He died on the battlefield Feb. 27, 1991.
Marseilles resident and veteran Scott Buennemeyer was at the border of Iraq and Saudi Arabia with his unit, Echo Flight 50th Security Police Group at Hahn Air Base, the day Olson’s plane went down.
They’ve commemorated Olson’s life every Feb. 27 since, learning his name 20 years after his death.
Sunday, Buennemeyer will be at the Middle East Conflict wall in Marseilles to tell Olson’s story and say a prayer.
Buennemeyer recently got in touch with Olson’s sister, Kristin.
“I told her everything I knew about him,” Buennemeyer said. “I told her that her brother was a hero. He didn’t try to save his plane. He tried to protect everybody. The landing gear gave up, and the plane flipped right in front of us. The fire was too hot, and the munitions were exploding.”
Buennemeyer served as a master sergeant, and he’s still in regular contact with his unit to this day.
“He was supporting the army in a big tank battle with the Republican Guard,” Buennemeyer said. “He stayed on the battlefield to keep flying air support and got shot up. He stayed in the fight and the battle damage destroyed the hydraulics in the landing gear. He was a hero for staying and supporting that tank battle.”
It was the last combat operation of the war.
Olson’s family lives in North Carolina, and Buennemeyer said his family has set up a scholarship fund in Olson’s honor.
“I have about $400 at the moment to send to Ms. Olson on the anniversary of her brother’s death,” Bunnemeyer said. “It’s helping my guys and myself deal with this traumatic event. We’re able to do something physically to help remember this officer, and it helps Kristin because she can understand he’s not forgotten. People are trying to honor his memory.”
Buennemeyer said there are so many “what ifs” he and his unit have had answered thanks to the family.
“I didn’t know this officer, but now we have a personal background,” Buennemeyer said. “We know what he was like, how he was. He was a joker. We’re able to process these things now. This man had a family and people he loved. He gave his life for his country. This isn’t just a random event.”
Echo Flight’s mission was to defend Air Force bases by constructing the defense of an Air Force base near the border of Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and then fight as infantry to keep the base secure.
The base was a key airfield and logistical staging base that General H. Norman Schwarzkopf’s VII Corp Armored Units arrived from Germany to launch a “Hail Mary” attack on Iraqi forces, initiating the ground phase of Desert Storm on Feb. 24, 1991, according to documents provided by Buennemeyer.