Retired July 31, 1957. Died Dec. 12, 1983.
Thayer Stevens Olds was born in Orwell, Ohio in 1904. He attended Hiram College for one year before receiving his appointment to the U.S. Military Academy where he graduated and was commissioned a second lieutenant on June 9, 1928. After graduation he chose the Air Corps and was sent to Kelly Field, Texas for flight training, receiving his wings in 1920.
From October 1929 to April 1941 he served in squadron duties as a fighter pilot and then as squadron commander and group operations officer. He was then appointed commanding officer and organizer of the 14th Fighter Group, which Served in the European Theater of Operations during World War II, during which time he participated as group leader in 25 fighter missions. He was also commanding officer of the Los Angeles Defense Region, Fourth Fighter command, during this period.
General Olds' next assignment was as division chief, Unit Training Division, at Headquarters Army Air Force, Washington, D.C. Then in May 1943 he was assigned as air member, Joint War Plans Committee at Army Air Force headquarters. In January 1944 he became chief of the European Branch there, and in October of that year was appointed commanding Officer of the 301st Fighter Wing, which he organized and trained, and with which he was stationed in the Far East. After serving as commanding officer of the Seventh Fighter Command from September 1945 until September 1946 he became chief of staff for the 20th Air Force.
In September 1947 the general was assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations, at Air Force headquarters, Washington, D.C. He served as chief of staff of the 307th Bomb Wing at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., prior to his assignment as commanding Officer of the Sixth Air Division there.
Assuming command of the 40th Air Division at Turner Air Force Base, Ga., in June 1951, on Oct. 26, 1955 General Olds was named commander of the 26th Air Division (Defense), Air Defense Command, with station at Roslyn Air Force Base, N.Y., where on Jan. l5, 1957 he was given additional duty as commander of the 26th Continental Air Defense Division, also at Roslyn.
General Olds became a jet pilot at the age of 46, and in August 1953 led 20 F-84 Thunderjets of the 508th Strategic Fighter Wing from Turner Air Force Base to England in an historic non-stop flight which was accomplished by the use of air-to-air refueling.
His decorations include the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal and the Croix de Guerre. He is rated a command pilot.