Petty Officer First Class Karl Olson, US Navy
Karl grew up amazed at the submarines he saw on PBS on Saturday morning’s military hour, and at age 19 he was walking onto his first submarine as a member of the United States Navy. He remembers thinking, “Two years ago I was on a tractor in Minnesota, now I get to drive one of these!”
Fascinated by the underwater world, he loved working as a communications technician on board, spending 80 to 90 days at sea, then docking for about the same amount of time. During his downtime, he had hoped to learn to scuba dive, but when he started classes, his wife wanted no part of it, so he let it go.
Planning to retire from the Navy, MS had a different plan for him. He actually started having symptoms in his 20s, and after 10 years of service, he was medically discharged for reasons the military doctors could not diagnose. As the disease progressed, a neurologist helped put the pieces together and helped Karl receive medically retired status.
At times MS has tried to stop Karl in his tracks, he remembers fighting to walk to the mailbox and back, struggling to talk, swallow, and more. Determined to fight through it, he kept up his physical therapy, walked a few more steps each day, and is now pushing his friends through the Minnesota Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) to keep moving! He’s currently the Director of the Minnesota Chapter of the PVA and looks forward to training with his son Jaycob and Dive Pirates Chapter Midwest School of Diving