Winner Of The Losers

One man's life experiences and lessons

Archive for November, 2012

 

Diego Garcia is a tropical, footprint-shaped coral atoll located south of the equator in the central Indian Ocean. It is part of theBritish Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).

The atoll is approximately 1,970 nautical miles (3,650 km) east of the coast of Africa (at Tanzania), 967 nautical miles (1,790 km) south-southwest of the southern tip of India (at Kanyakumari) and 2,550 nautical miles (4,720 km) west-northwest of the west coast of Australia (at Cape Range National Park, Western Australia). Diego Garcia lies in the Chagos Archipelago at the southernmost tip of the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge – a vast submarine range in the Indian Ocean, topped by a long chain of coral reefs, atolls, and islands comprising Lakshadweep, Maldives, and the Chagos Archipelago.  The US Navy operates Naval Support Facility (NSF) Diego Garcia, a large naval ship and submarine support base, military air base, communications and space-tracking facility, and an anchorage for pre-positioned military supplies for regional operations aboard Military Sealift Command ships in the lagoon.

The SAC (Air Force) ramp at Diego Garcia, Jan 1991.  Eight (8) KC-135 tankers, Four (4) KC-10 tankers and Twenty-One (21) B-52 bombers.  In the back far right, you can see the tents city for USAF personnel deployed.

 January 17, 1991:  B-52Gs take off on bombing missions over Iraq on the first night of OPERATION DESERT STORM.  Each bomber normally has six (6) aircrew members.

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 3, 1991:  B-52G, tail number 59-2593, from 42nd Bomb Wing, Loring AFB, under command of the 4300d Bomb Wing (Provisional), experiences a catastrophic electrical system failure while returning from a bombing mission over Iraq.  At least five of its eight engines flame out, and the aircraft crashes into the Indian Ocean 2-3 miles north of the island.  An aircrew from 97th Bomb Wing, Eaker AFB, ejects at a low altitude (between 1,000 and 200 feet above the water), and although three crew members eject safely, three others, Captain Jeffry J. Olson, First Lieutenant Jorge I. Arteaga, and First Lieutenant Eric D. Heeden, are killed on impact or drowned.

I was deployed to Diego Garcia for 207 days back in 1991 from Eaker AFB as a Contingency Contracting Officer.  The aircrew of the doomed B-52G was from my base.  Capt Jeff Olson was my friend and often we would meet at the Officers’ Club on a Friday night to play table shuffleboard.  One of the great actions I was able to do during my deployment was to buy the marker above to honor the three who gave their lives.  Unfortunately the bodies of Captain Jeffry J. Olson and First Lieutenant Jorge I. Arteaga were not recovered.  This marker is the closest one could be placed to where the aircraft crashed.

Above is the ceremony on Veterans Day 1991 to dedicate the marker to the B52G aircrew killed in an accident on 3 Feb 1991 in the Indian Ocean.  The marker honors Captain Jeffry J. Olson, First Lieutenant Jorge I. Arteaga, and First Lieutenant Eric D. Heeden.  The location of market is at the Point Marianne Cemetery on Diego Garcia.

The red marker designates the location of the Point Marianne Cemetery.  You can see the full runway.  The water to the left of the runway is the Indian Ocean, the water on the right of the runway is the lagoon of the atoll.

 

Captain Jeffry J. Olson, Class of 1986, died when the B-52 on which he was a crew member crashed into the Indian Ocean on Feb. 3, 1991. Jeff was the navigator on board the aircraft which was returning from an Operation Desert Storm bombing mission. Jeff was a graduate of CS-24 and most of his squadron classmates remember him as always being full of life. He was the spark that kept his squadron classmates motivated. Whenever times were tough and it was hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, Jeff was always there to cheer you up and help you make the best of the situation.

Jeff was a highly devoted and motivated Air Force officer. He was proud to be in the Air Force and proud to be a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy. Jeff’s father graduated from the Academy in 1959. He was a pilot in B-52s and has since retired. Jeff’s brother also graduated from the Academy in 1984 and is currently a pilot in the B-52. Jeff was proud to follow the tradition of both his father and brother and become part of his family’s distinguished heritage of Air Force officers.

Jeff excelled in everything he set out to accomplish. He was an expert skier, both on snow and water, and an avid hunter and skeet shooter. Jeff was also a member of the highly-talented Air Force Academy sky diving team, the Wings of Blue. He was also a member of the Association of Graduates.  Most of all, Jeff’s love and devotion for his wife, Cheryl, was never-ending. She was Jeff’s motivation and inspiration for his continued success through life.

 

Jeff knew of the possible danger he might face while being deployed in Operation Desert Storm. He never once doubted his abilities and continually upheld his responsibilities to his family and country. Jeff’s death has left emptiness in all our lives, especially those of Cheryl and his family. It was an honor to be one of Jeff’s friends. Jeff Olson was a true American and he will be greatly missed. (Capt. G. Scott Campbell, ‘86, 99 AREFS, Robins AFB, Ga.)

Jeffry Jon Olson – ND (27) Gulf War

Captain, United States Air Force

Duty: Radar Navigator

United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), Class of 1985

Birth: 1963-04-05 — Mountain Home AFB, Idaho // Died at 27on 1991-02-03

Place of Death:  Indian Ocean, off the coast of Diego Garcia

Cause of Death: Killed, Non Hostile: Plane crash

Home of Record State: North Dakota

 

Son of Dr. Jean A. (née Lierbo) and Lieutenant Colonel Norris O. Olson. Younger brother of Marc Norris Olson. Norris served in Vietnam out of Clark Air Base, Philippines and Danang, Vietnam, 1965-1967. His father (class of 1959) and his brother (class of 1983) were also both graduates of the United States Air Force Academy. Jeffry was raised mainly in Grand Forks, North Dakota with his family, which also included younger sister Tara Lynn.

Jeffry graduated from Red River High School in Grand Forks in 1981, the USAFA, Colorado Springs, in 1986, and earned a Master’s degree in operations management in 1989 from the University of Arkansas.

He married Cheryl S. Bono in Blytheville, Arkansas, on 11 January 1989. Blytheville was the home of one of Jeffry’s station stops, Eaker Air Force Base.

Jeffry died when his B-52G, tail number 59-2593, suffered a catastrophic electrical system failure. The crew had just flown a sortie to Iraq as part of Desert Storm and was returning to base at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. The six crew members ejected at a low altitude and three of them either died on impact with the water or drowned.

Posthumous recipient of the Meritorious Service Medal and National Defense Medal.

 

Jorge Isaac Arteaga – CT (26) Gulf War

Captain, United States Air Force

Duty: Bombardier/Navigator

Birth: 1964-07-22 — La Paz, Bolivia // Died at 26 on 1991-02-03

Place of Death:  Indian Ocean, off the coast of Diego Garcia

Cause of Death: Killed, Non Hostile: Plane crash

Interment: Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

Plot: Section MH Marker 512

Home of Record State: Connecticut

 

Son of Magda and Enrique J. Arteaga. The Arteaga family had moved to Pittsburgh when Enrique went to work for U.S. Steel as Senior Geoligist. While Jorge was in college, Enrique lived in Trumbull, Connecticut while working at the United Nations in New York City as a liaison officer to the Bolivian government. Enrique, a native Bolivian, was trained as geologist, and he then moved back to La Paz, Bolivia in 1987 to continue working with Bolivian government in the mining industry.

Jorge graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1987, with a degree in Computer Science, and also attended Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

He married Emily Marie Gardner, from Memphis, Tennessee, in Blytheville, Arkansas on 14 January 1991, just two hours before Jorge went to Eaker Air Force Base to fly overseas.

Jorge died when his B-52G, tail number 59-2593, suffered a catastrophic electrical system failure. The crew had just flown a sortie to Iraq as part of Desert Storm and was returning to base at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. The six crew members ejected at a low altitude and three of them either died on impact with the water or drowned.

Arteaga was posthumously promoted to captain. Emily remarried.

 

Eric Douglas Hedeen – WA (27) Gulf War

First Lieutenant, United States Air Force

Duty:  Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO); RADAR Jammer

Birth: 1963-12-01 // Died at 27 on 1991-02-03

Place of Death:  Indian Ocean, off the coast of Diego Garcia

Cause of Death: Killed, Non Hostile: Plane crash

Interment:  Evergreen Memorial Park, East Wenatchee, Douglas County, Washington, USA

Home of Record State:  Washington

 

Son of Dolores I. “Dee” and Gerald R. “Jerry”, of Malaga.

Graduated from Wenatchee High School in 1982 and Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, with a degree in architecture in the class of 1987.

He married Susan B. Jahnke on 24 June 1989.

Eric died when his B-52G, tail number 59-2593, suffered a catastrophic electrical system failure. The crew had just flown a sortie to Iraq as part of Desert Storm and was returning to base at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. The six crew members ejected at a low altitude and three of them either died on impact with the water or drowned. Eric jumped at an altitude of about 600-feet, low for the parachute to deploy correctly, which malfunctioned.

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