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First Name: Eric

Last Name: Olson

Birthplace: Tacoma, WA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Thor

Date of Birth: 24 January 1952

Rank or Rate: Admiral

Years Served: 1973-2011
Eric Thor Olson

Graduate, U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1973


Eric Thor Olson

Admiral, U.S. Navy

Eric Thor Olson was born on 24 January 1952 in Tacoma, WA.

Olson graduated from the U.S. 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). In 1993, Olson participated in the Battle of Mogadishu. In 1994, Olson became Commander, Naval Special Warfare Development Group, an American counterterrorism unit. Olson was promoted again in 1999 when he assumed command of Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, CA.

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.

He previously served as Deputy Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command from 2003 to July 2007. On 6 July 2007, Olson was promoted to the four-star rank of Admiral and served as the 8th Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) from 2 July 2009 to 8 August 2011.

Olson was the first Navy SEAL ever to be appointed to three-star and four-star rank, as well as the first naval officer to be USSOCOM's combatant commander. In addition, Admiral Olson is currently 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.

Admiral Olson relinquished command of SOCOM to Admiral William H. McRaven on 22 August 2011 and retired from active duty the same day, after 38 years of service.

Medals and Awards

Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal (2 Awards)
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star with Combat "Valor" Device
Defense Meritorious Service Medal (2 Awards)
Meritorious Service Medal (3 Awards)
Joint Service Commendation Medal (2 Awards)
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Combat Action Ribbon (2 Awards)
Joint Meritorious Unit Award (2 Awards)
Navy Unit Commendation with (2 Awards)
Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation with 2 Bronze Service Stars
National Defense Service Medal with 2 Bronze Service Stars
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with Bronze Service Star
Vietnam Service Medal with Bronze Service Star
Southwest Asia Service Medal with 2 Bronze Service Stars
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Armed Forces Service Medal
Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with 2 Bronze Service Stars
Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon with 3 Bronze Service Stars
Coast Guard Special Operations Service Ribbon
United Nations Medal
Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland (3rd class)
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)
Navy Expert Rifleman Medal
Navy Expert Pistol Shot Medal

Badges & Emblems

SEAL Trident
Naval Parachutist
U.S. Special Operations Command
Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge

In Retirement

After his retirement in August 2011, he joined the board of directors of Mission Essential Personnel and Iridium Communications. He is also an honorary chairman of The OSS Society.

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.

Honoree ID: 616   Created by: MHOH




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