Defenders of the Philippine

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Colonel John Olson

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Colonel John Olson

Colonel Olson's proudest service is to the Philippine Scouts.  He serves as the historian for the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society.  He belonged to the 57th Infantry Regiment, a unit that extended to Fort Sam Houston during World War I and the Civil War battle of Chickamauga in Georgia. 

This regiment held back the Japanese in the Philippines and its members garnered 21 Distinguished Service Crosses and 68 Silver Stars.  Colonel Olson received one of these crosses for helping to set up a command post after an artillery barrage.  He was also among those captured and forced to endure the Bataan Death March.  After that, he was shipped to Japan in November, 1942 working in a factory that produced steel drums.

John Olson developed a love of the Philippines from his father who served two tours in the U.S. Army in the Philippines in the early 1900s.  When John graduated from West Point, he requested a posting to the Philippine Scouts.  The Philippine Scouts formed after the Spanish left the island and the Philippine islands were a territory of the U.S.  They consisted of 5,000 Filipinos broken down into 100 men groups led by an American  officer. 

Olson took part in military maneuvers that served as a dress rehearsal for the war to come. As Asia and the South Pacific threatened  a "War Plan Orange" was developed requiring those in the Philippines to hold back the Japanese for 6 months should they invade.  Once the Japanese attacked the area theJapanese gave themselves several weeks to capture the islands.  The defenders lasted 5 months without supplies of food, or weapons, and with all their aircraft destroyed.  The Pacific Fleet had their ships sunk in Pearl Harbor.  The five months provided valuable time for the military to regroup.

More to come on John Olson.

Picture of officers 57th Infantry Philippine Scouts

Officers of 57th Infantry (PS), Fort William McKinley, PI August 19, 1941.  Colonel Olsen is in the second row, fourth from left.