Retired Nov. 1, 1991.
Major General Thomas R. Olsen is vice commander, Headquarters 9th Air Force, and deputy commander, U.S. Central Command Air Forces, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.
General Olsen was born in Houston. He earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Texas A&M University) in 1956 and a master of science degree in international relations from The George Washington University in 1968. The general completed Squadron Officer School in 1964, Naval Command and Staff College in 1968, and Air War College in 1975.
He received his commission through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program, entered active duty in January 1957, and completed pilot training in April 1958 at Greenville Air Force Base, Miss. Upon completion of fighter-interceptor training in F-86L Sabrejets at Perrin Air Force Base, Texas, he joined the 326th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base, Mo., and subsequently joined the 526th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, West Germany, flying F-102 Delta Daggers.
The general returned to the United States in 1965 and was assigned to the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing, England Air Force Base, La., where he flew F-100D Super Sabres. While there he served with the 614th and later the 615th Tactical Fighter squadrons. When the 615th deployed to Southeast Asia, he was assigned to Phan Rang Air Base, South Vietnam, and flew 301 combat missions.
After completing the Naval Command and Staff College in July 1968, he served as the senior Air Force representative to the Naval Amphibious School, Coronado, Calif. In July 1971 he was assigned to the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The general participated in the reorganization and conversion of the wing to F-111Fs, and served as squadron operations officer and later as commander of the 391st Tactical Fighter Squadron.
He graduated from Air War College in June 1975 and was assigned to the Air Force Military Personnel Center, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, as chief of the Rated Officer Career Management Branch and then as deputy chief of the Officer Career Management Division. From February 1978 to June 1979 he served at Shaw Air Force Base as chief of staff for Tactical Air Command's 9th Air Force. Returning to the Pacific Theater, he was assigned as vice commander of the 314th Air Division, Seoul, South Korea. General Olsen moved to Yokota Air Base, Japan, in January 1981 and served as deputy chief of staff for operations for 5th Air Force. In July 1982 he took command of the 51st Tactical Fighter Wing, headquartered at Osan Air Base, South Korea. He was responsible for leadership and management of three tactical fighter squadrons assigned to three different bases there, and had host responsibilities for numerous geographically separated units.
From June 1983 to July 1985 the general was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Pacific Command, Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii, as deputy director for operations. He then served as assistant chief of staff for operations, Allied Forces Central Europe, Brunssum, Netherlands. In October 1987 he became chief of staff and deputy commander, 4th Allied Tactical Air Force, Heidelberg, West Germany. He assumed his present duties in August 1989.
In August 1990 General Olsen deployed to Saudi Arabia as deputy commander for U.S. Central Command Air Forces. Initially, he was in charge of all U.S. and allied air assets until the commander's ability to assume those duties. He returned to Shaw Air Force Base in March 1991.
A command pilot with more than 4,400 flying hours, the general has flown the T-33, T-39, F-4, F-86, F-100, F-102 and F-111. His military awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with 15 oak leaf clusters, and Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster.
He was promoted to major general Sept. 1, 1986, with same date of rank.