Carl Baker Olsen was born on May 24, 1904, at Fort Collins, Colorado, the son of Peter and Lena Olsen of Penn Yan, N.Y. He was graduated from Penn Yan Academy and entered the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, Conn., as a Cadet on April 25, 1925.
Graduated and commissioned Ensign on May 15, 1928, he subsequently advanced in rank to Lieutenant (jg), May 15, 1930; Lieutenant, May 15, 1932; Lieut. Commander, May 25, 1941; Commander, September 15, 1942; Captain, March 24, 1945; Rear Admiral, September 1, 1958. Retired July 1, 1963.
He served his earliest assignments as communications officer and gunnery officer aboard the Cutters Gresham and Mendota of the New York Division, and the Cutter Seminole of the Great Lakes Division. From March to May 1930 he was assigned to the Fifth Coast Guard District Office at Norfolk, Va., then served for six months as gunnery officer aboard the Destroyer Ericsson stationed at New London. From December 1930 until June 1931, he was commanding officer of the patrol boat CG-214 of the New York Division.
He was next assigned to aviation flight training at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, Florida, and was designated a Coast Guard aviator in December 1932. His first assignment as an aviator was to the Coast Guard Air Station at Miami which he later commanded from June 1934 to January 1936. During this period he performed an errand of mercy for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in May 1938. His citation describes the circumstances in part as follows:
In recognition of your outstanding action (on 24 June 1935) in flying an airplane of the Coast Guard approximately 300 miles to sea under the difficulties of darkness, storm and rough seas, for the purpose of contacting the U.S. Army Transport Republic and removing and transporting to a hospital on shore an officer of the Army who was critically ill.
From January 1936 to July 1939, he served as Operations Officer in the Aviation Division at Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, D.C. He spent the next three years in study, first at the Post Graduate School, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md., then at the California Institute of Technology where he earned a Master's Degree in Aeronautical Engineering.
In July 1942 of World War II he assumed command of the Coast Guard Air Station at St. Petersburg, Fla. He remained here until February 1944 when he was assigned as Search and Rescue Liaison Officer on the staff of the Commander, South Pacific. In December 1944 he returned to the United States and was stationed at Coast Guard Headquarters as Assistant Chief, Search and Rescue Division until December 1945, then as Chief, Aviation Division until July 1946.
Transferred to the Coast Guard Academy he served as commandant of the Cadets until August 1950. As such he also commanded the Academy training bark Eagle on the Cadet Practice Squadron summer cruises of 1949 and 1950. After the latter cruise he returned to Coast Guard Headquarters to become Chief, Aviation Division.
In August 1954, he was transferred to New York City where he served as Operations and Air Officer of the Eastern Coast Guard Area, and in October 1957 became Deputy Eastern Area Commander.
In July 1958 he assumed the duties of Deputy Western Area Commander with offices in San Francisco.
On August 4, 1958, the President nominated him (Captain Olsen then) to the grade of permanent Rear Admiral. The Senate confirmed the appointment, with rank made effective September 1, 1958.
On September 8, 1958, Rear Admiral Olsen became Commander, 8th Coast Guard District, New Orleans, (relieving Rear Admiral Joseph A. Kerrins, USCG). He remained at that post until his retirement on July 1, 1963, after thirty years of commissioned service in the Coast Guard.
Rear Admiral Olsen's World War II campaign and service medals include the Asiatic-Pacific Area, American Defense Service, American Area, and World War II Victory. He also received the National Defense Service Medal (for serving on active duty during the period between June 27, 1950 and July 27, 1954 - Korean War).
He is a member of the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences, Sigma XI Society, and the Coast Guard Alumni Association.
Rear Admiral Olsen is married to the former Millicent A. of Middletown, Conn. They have one son Carl B., Jr., who is a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps.