Robert John Ollikainen
Sergeant
D CO, 2ND BN, 18TH INFANTRY, 1ST INF DIV, USARV
Army of the United States
Livonia, Michigan
February 17, 1950 to October 25, 1969
ROBERT J OLLIKAINEN is on the Wall at Panel W17, Line 117

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Robert J Ollikainen
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April 13, 2013

A photo of Robert J. Ollikainen, who Jack Sudia (Toms River, NJ) served with in Vietnam, and their company mascot Rebel. This photo was taken midterm of his tour in country. Jack was one of the few who spoke with Robert the night before his death.

Robert J Ollikainen

Further correspondence with Jack provides the following information about Robert and the event that took his life. - -

Robert Ollikainen and I went to Vietnam in the same month, December 1968, Robert about 3 weeks earlier than me. After about 5 months in the field, I was asked to serve in the rear as the company clerk. Robert and other company GI's would always stop by and we would talk about conditions in the field. When I left the field, Robert took my radio and position as radio operator.

The day prior to Robert being KIA, he stopped to talk and I informed him that he was getting close to returning to the states and the First Sergeant agreed to pull him out of the field and have a rear job for the rest of his tour. He would be on his last ambush mission, due to take a rear job the next day. Little did anyone know that it would literally be his last mission.

As told to me by Robert's fellow soldiers who were on the ambush, it went smooth, nothing out of the ordinary, quiet night. At day break, normal civilian operations were beginning. The ambush team was getting ready to return to the company field location, Fort Apache, when they started receiving incoming small arms fire.

For some reason, Robert stood up and started returning fire. He was hit in the chest by small arms fire and died quickly.
- - Jack Suda, November 08, 2014


- - The Virtual Wall, November 09, 2014

 

I have a total of 13 Photos for you to consider posting for Robert J Ollikainen. I have also written some memorial comments about my time with Robert while we served together.

Robert J Ollikainen

I served with Robert Ollikainen from December 1968 through June 1969 when I left Viet Nam. He was an easy going, friendly guy who did his job with a quiet resignation. We would both grumble about some of the dumb things that happened, but he simply tried to get through his tour one day at a time. We were not extremely close as buddies but we went out on many patrols and spend many nights on ambush together.

Robert J Ollikainen

There was one incident involving Robert that I remember vividly. It occurred on Saturday, May 3 1969. We were part of a patrol at 6:00 in the evening, moving down a road toward an ambush site. He was near the front of the file and I was about fifty feet behind him. There was a file of soldiers on each side of the road and there was water on both sides of the road.

Robert J Ollikainen

Suddenly a water buffalo broke loose from his papa-san and we saw it come charging toward our file. It charges one man and the guy jumps to the side and the buffalo misses. The buffalo heads for the next man (Robert) and butts him into the water.

Robert J Ollikainen

The rifle sling from Robert's rifle hooks around the horns of the buffalo. Now the buffalo has a rifle in his face and he is really mad. He charges past me toward a man on the other side of the road. I aim my rifle and fire three times, twice in the chest and once in the head and the buffalo drops. We initially thought that the buffalo had killed Robert because it got him on its horns, but as it turned out the horns never punctured his flak jacket. Robert was only stunned. He said the buffalo hit him with its head. We couldn't stop the buffalo sooner, because there was always someone in the line of fire. I was the first one to get a clear shot at him. The papa-san can't figure it out.

Robert J Ollikainen

As soon as the medic confirms that Robert hasn't broken anything, we continue moving along the road, eventually reaching our designated location near a river crossing and set up for the night ambush. The night passes uneventfully and we return along the same route the next morning.

Robert J Ollikainen

As we make our way back to our pickup point we pass through a small village near the site of the buffalo incident. We quickly notice that several people are walking around with large chunks of meat hanging from metal hooks. It turns out that the villagers brought the buffalo carcass back to the village and cut it up while it was still fresh. The local diet normally consists of rice and vegetables with an occasional bit of protein from a chicken or a pig. The fresh buffalo meat is a real treat for these villagers.

Robert J Ollikainen

It also turns out that the farmer who owned the buffalo will not lose everything. He is able to file a claim with the U.S. Army for the loss of his buffalo and will receive compensation so that he will be able to purchase another water buffalo or other animals. This is one of the side benefits of pacification where the U.S. tried to minimize collateral effects of the war on civilians.

Robert J Ollikainen

Robert Ollikainen was a bit bruised from this episode, but he responded with his quiet sense of humor. He later joked about the incident and said he was thinking about becoming a bull fighter, but felt that he needed more practice and training. I miss Robert and was sorry to learn that he did not return. He was one of the most memorable people in our unit.

Robert J Ollikainen Robert J Ollikainen

Robert J Ollikainen

- - Steven Burchik, October 23, 2013
Photos © 2014

 

Michigan papers for week of October 31, 1969 posted similar articles that read like:

3 Michigan Men Killed in Viet
WASHINGTON (UPI) - - Three Michigan soldiers were among 18 men killed recently in action in Vietnam, the Defense Department announced today. Killed were: Sgt. Robert J. Ollikainen, son of Mr. and Mrs. Tovio J. Ollikainen of Livonia; Pfc. Raymond R. Blossey, husband of Mrs. Wendy S. Blossey of Port Huron; and Pfc. James Jones, husband of Mrs. Patricia A. Jones of Ann Arbor.

Official records simply state that SGT Ollikainen was killed by small arms fire when his unit encountered a hostile force. No other members of his unit were killed that day. He had started his tour in Vietnam on December 3, 1968 and only had 5 weeks left until the end of his tour.

Robert was survived by his mother Lillian (1923-2011) and father Toivo Ollikainen (1923 - 2002) (Married for 56 years and TSGT, US Army Air Forces, WWII), sister Carol, and brother Curt Ollikainen. Robert and his parents are buried in Glen Eden Memorial Park, Block 29 (Garden of Ascension), Section 1037, Graves 1, 2, & 3, Livonia Michigan.

Robert J Ollikainen

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- - The Virtual Wall, November 05, 2014

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