Eagan High School hosted a special ceremony March 15 to officially rename Eagan American Legion Post 594 in honor of 2005 graduate Daniel R. Olsen, who was killed in action while serving his country in Iraq.
Post Commander John Flynn said they chose March 15, 2019 as the date for the ceremony because it would have been Daniel’s 32nd birthday and because it marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the American Legion in Paris, France on March 15, 1919.
Flynn thanked Principal Polly Reikowski, teacher and post member Paul Kovach, and Eagan High staff and students for hosting the ceremony. “Eagan High School meant a lot to Daniel and is a special place for his parents, Wayne and Gwen,” Flynn said.
Growing up in Eagan, Daniel sampled a variety of sports and enjoyed participating in karate and the Boy Scouts. During his high school years, he was part of Eagan’s drum line, was a valued worker at Camp Snoopy and volunteered in the children’s program at church. Daniel enlisted in the Marines on his 18th birthday. While it was hard for his parents to watch him go, they supported his decision 100 percent, Flynn said.
In January 2007, Daniel deployed for his first tour of duty in Iraq. On April 2, 2007, he was shot and killed by a sniper while protecting a critical position at the police station in Saqliwiyah, Iraq. Flynn said Daniel’s commanders described him as “a silent professional, reserved, modest and efficient. He was at the forefront of every one of his missions and had demonstrated proven courage under fire.”
Flynn and Post 594 Adjunct Wayne Beierman said they had been thinking about renaming the post in honor of Daniel and his family for more than a year. Then last November, a member of the post mentioned the idea to Wayne Olsen while the two were preparing breakfast for families of veterans staying at Fisher House at the Minneapolis VA. Flynn followed up with Wayne and Gwen shortly thereafter and said both supported the idea. In December, members of the post unanimously approved a motion to rename the post in honor of Daniel and drafted a formal resolution that was submitted and approved by the state and national American Legion.
The Eagan American Legion Post 594 has been in existence since it received a temporary charter in January 1989. In June 2003, the post was granted a permanent charter. And on March 15, 2019, it was officially renamed the Daniel R. Olsen American Legion Post 594.
Wayne and Gwen Olsen attended the ceremony along with Shelcy Kamrud, one of Daniel’s two sisters, and his grandfather, Jack Edstrom. Also in attendance were Darrel Redepenning, commander of the American Legion Department of Minnesota, and Dan Ludwig, past commander of the National American Legion.