Olin was born May 3, 1887 in Guthrie County, Iowa. Graduated from Dakota Wesleyan University, Mitchell, S.D. in June 1912. Got his Master's degree from Iowa State College and became principal of the high school at Larchwood, Iowa.
When the United States became involved with the War in Europe April 6, 1917, Olin volunteered for Officer Training in the Army. He was turned down for being too young. He then tried the Air Arm of the Army for flight training and was rejected for being too old. He now requested duty in the Regular Army and failed the physical for being too thin. Later was inducted by the draft and reported to Camp Dodge, Rock Rapids, Iowa February 24, 1918 as a private. Attached to M.G. (Machine Gun) Company, 328 Infantry, 82nd Division A.E.F. Was transferred then to Camp Upton where he arrived April 15. On April 30 Olin started writing in his war diary.
From Olin's diary:
Saturday October 19th
Have just passed perhaps the two most exciting weeks of my life. We have been in the fight of Argonne Woods along the Aire River and as regiment has not been relieved yet may have some more exciting times. Left woods. Sunday evening on road all night but did not get very far as too much traffic congestion. Got as far as across river from Apremont but could not go on to positions as too light and German shelling road too much. Heavy machine gun fire in Apremont and also shelling. Saw 1st dead American soldier by road that A.M. A machine gun cart driver, horse and himself had been killed by truck driving at night. Dead German across road from him. Doubled up backwards. On ahead were 3 dead horses and a dead Boche in middle of road. Top of mans head off, as well as foot. Have seen many such sights since and am getting sort of hardened to them.
In moving from Fleville to Somerance we were shelled out of place where transports had been located. 4 men hurt. I played tag with Perry around a poplar tree trying to dodge shrapnel. On road all night and within fire practically all the time. When got back here on horse killed 5 minutes after we got in dugout. Next night kitchen and gun carts moved up to brush path near Somerance and 5 limber horses killed from our bunch here in town. We have staying here though at same place since coming in again after one nights rest at Apremont. 1st night in town shelled heavily and a number men hurt at breakfast next A.M., then practically no shelling. Some monster shells have been thrown into this place. Shell holes 18 across and 15ft. deep. Said to be about 16 inch shells.
Free grub here in Fleville, Red Cross, Y.M. and K.C. serve free cocoa, grub, cigarettes, and newspapers.
Saw John McKenna yesterday p.m. Good visit.
Someone stole all my toilet articles from my gun cart.
Lots of peace talk at present but it does not as yet sound like peace.
Monday Nov. 11
Heard cannon still booming in the distance at 10:00 A.M. though all ceased at 11:00 A.M.
Last entry in Olin's diary was in the first week of December 1918, The second week in December Olin came down with the flu (Spanish Flu-World pandemic) and was admitted to Base Hospital 103 near Dijon. He then developed a pulmonary infection. The Red Cross sent Olin's father a letter on January 23, 1919 saying that Olin's condition was far from satisfactory.
Olin passed away January 31, 1919. He is buried at Thiaucourt, N.W. of Pont-a-Mousson in a military cemetery. #23 Block A. Row 17
He was with us 31 years, 8 months, 29 days.
Branch: US Army
Regiment: 327th Infantry
Division: 82nd Company: MG