Raymond Oleson

One of nine brothers who served in the military, Army veteran Raymond Oleson kneels beside the grave of his brother Allen Oleson, an Army medic killed in Korea along the 38th parallel. Oleson died in September of 1950 and is buried in the Oakland Municipal Cemetery in Forest City.

Editor's note -- This story first appeared in the Globe Gazette on May 31, 2004. 

FOREST CITY | The American flag over the soldier's grave snaps in the strong wind.

Raymond Oleson kneels near the granite headstone, paying tribute to a fallen comrade -- his brother.

Cpl. Allen Keith Oleson died Sept. 24, 1950, when struck by enemy fire along the 38th parallel in Korea. He was 20 years old.

Pushing to his feet, Oleson says, "Allen was in the Army Medical Corps. He died giving aid to a comrade, got a Purple Heart."

After a quiet moment, the 71-year-old Oleson turns away.

Duty, honor and integrity -- more than words for the nine sons of Roger Oleson.

The band of brothers, raised on farms in Winnebago and Worth counties, all became soldiers.

Four chose the Army, another the Army Air Corps. One joined the Navy. Three enlisted in the Air Force.

"I believe in those old words -- love your country," says Raymond, a rural Northwood Air Force veteran. 

Their brother's death in Korea "probably cemented the feeling of duty" in the younger brothers, says 70-year-old Roger Oleson, a career Air Force veteran.

"I still remember the day our family was notified," Roger said. That is the only time he recalls his father shedding tears.

"Honesty, integrity and hard work were part of our background," said Roger, who retired in Anchorage, Alaska. "Being a farmer's sons, we learned hard work, learned when there was a job to be done, give it your best."

Those ethics and values grown in the fields of North Iowa served the Olesons well during military service.

There was never any question about serving in the military, said 68-year-old Berl Oleson of Dexter, Minn. "It was our duty, we all knew that."

"I remember as a kid, Dad was so proud of his military boys, his sons," said the youngest, 62-year-old Emory Oleson, an Army veteran who lives in Port Charlotte, Fla.

Oldest of the brothers, the late Pfc. Valere "Frank" Oleson, enlisted in the Army during World War II.

The late Ronald Oleson joined the Army Air Corps in August 1945, the day after Japan surrendered. Sgt. Oleson was a courier, carrying military messages between bases in the Philippines and Japan.

The late Fred Oleson, one of the youngest brothers, served two years in the Air Force.

The only Naval veteran of the Oleson brothers is 76-year-old Sherman of Forest City. He served aboard the USS PC 1170 performing sea and air rescue in the Pacific Ocean.

"Joining up was something you had to do," Sherman said. "And you served with honor and fulfilled your obligation to your country."

And to a fallen brother.

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